Campus Announcements

Update on tree removals from Towny Angell

I’ve received questions about the recent round of tree removals on campus and want to share my response with all:

Many of our trees were planted in the 1930s, though many of the Douglas Fir predate the campus and are significantly older. We experienced high losses and damage to trees last winter. The elm on Woodstock was taken down because it was diagnosed with Dutch Elm disease and the city required us to remove it. Two red oaks near Anna Mann failed and one of them hit MacNaughton and required students to  be vacated in the middle of the night. The maple tree by Eliot died and is being removed before it falls. The Big Leaf Maple by the Commons loading dock died and rotted through the core.

The Douglas Fir tree by the sports center was removed for several reasons. The first is that it was planted between the concrete foundation of the pool and the concrete foundation of the steam tunnel. Douglas Fir trees are very shallow rooted and depend on a large lateral root spread for stability. This tree had a highly compromised root area to the west and east of the trunk. It is too big for that location. We have had a truss failure in the swimming pool roof which will unfortunately require complete removal and replacement. I wanted to ensure that the roof could be replaced safely, and I wanted to avoid the possibility of the new roof being damaged when that tree did fail.

These are not simple decisions, I do not make them without consultation, and I do not take them lightly. Every time a tree falls we say, "Wow, we were lucky no one was hurt.” We do not want to see any person injured or any building damaged. Every one of these trees is coming down someday, and it is my job to try to remove it the day before that happens. It is very difficult to know when that is.  I hope to err on the side of caution. 

When I came here 30 years ago, Bill Owen had recently completed a tree survey of campus tree health and hazards. We are in the process of having a new survey conducted.  It will aid us in pursuing the most effective methods of providing for long-term tree health and it will also guide us in recognizing hazardous conditions in high-target areas. There are more trees on campus now than when I arrived here, we have lost some old friends, but others are 30 years older. The trees we plant are generally between 10' and 15' tall and 1-1/2"- 3" caliper. They are optimum for survival and as we keep planting and other trees keep maturing, we are providing for succession for the next 100 years.

Every tree that comes down fills me with great sadness and every tree that is planted fills me with great hope.

—Towny Angell

Director of Facilities Operations

For more information, contact Towny Angell.
Submitted by Robin Tovey.
Posted on Oct 19, 2017

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Questions may be directed to Robin Tovey, communications manager. Announcements do not represent the views of Reed College.