Concerns Rise Over Demolishing MSU Oak Trees
Michigan State University's campus is known for being green in more ways than one. Professors are concerned for centuries-old oak trees that might be bulldozed to make way for the $550 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. Video by fox47news.comvideo
"Go Green!" is often heard on MSU's campus, but when a note from professors worried about the survival of oak trees near the FRIB project goes viral, it sounds a little different.
An email circulated urging concerned faculty and staff to contact the administration, and ask them to consider a change to the Facility for Rare Isotope building plans near the intersection of Bogue Street and Shaw Lane. Some student say they don't have an issue, so why should the professors?
"They may not know what the facility entails," said Jessica West, a physics graduate student. "I know we also have a really good agriculture program, so we should have a nice green campus, but there is a certain balance you need to have, and I believe the FRIB is more important than a few trees."
The professors think both are important. They hope redesigning the blueprint a little could mean the centuries-old oak trees could stay. Students have some ideas as well.
"Maybe like relocate the trees or plant some news ones for making up for cutting down these trees," said Nick Witgen, who works in a residence hall.
FOX 47 spoke with several MSU professors who didn't feel comfortable going on camera. They all said the MSU Media Communications office was handling all interviews.
Assistant Vice President of Media Communications Kent Cassella said in a written statement:
"As one of the founding land-grant universities in the country, we at Michigan State University are very aware of the historical nature and aesthetics of the campus. Our campus master plan is very detailed on preserving green space on campus, including trees. The Cherry Lane Apartments project is a good example. About 40 buildings were razed, yet many of the trees were protected throughout the demolition process. The result is a park-like setting with no sign of any of the buildings or asphalt parking lots. MSU has more than 40,000 trees on campus that are mapped and inventoried, and MSU employs an arborist to maintain the health of the trees. We are aware of the concerns expressed over several oak trees near the FRIB project along Bogue Street. Officials from the FRIB and Campus Planning Administration are looking at possible options to preserve the trees and appreciate the concerns that have been raised. MSU strives to find a balance between preserving green space on campus while at the same time evolving as a modern research facility, with world-class science initiatives such as FRIB."
Students say they can appreciate that.
"It opens up jobs for not only technicians and workers outside of the community but also for graduate students and professors, and it is really good for science," West said.
So, in the name of science, students say the trees can go, especially in that location.
"It's not like they're in the garden area where students hang out under them or benches in a park," West said. "They're on a road behind a building, that nobody's really there."