Tree Troubles

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CAMPUS: Falling limbs caused by improper pruning have forced campus officials to put safety before beauty and cut down more than 18 trees.

Instead of properly maintaining trees on campus, college officials decided to give the aging landmarks the ax.

About 18 eucalyptus trees were removed from the campus mall during winter break. Tree removal price varies, but at $2,000 per tree it could add up to $36,000, said Vice Chancellor of Business Operations and Fiscal Services Peter Hardash.

The decision came after a branch fell in 2011, crushing a metal trash can north of Dunlap Hall.

“The campus is showing its age,” President Erlinda Martinez said. “Pipes are bursting, trees are falling.”

Arborist Robert Hunter from Treesmith Enterprises recommended the removal because of the safety hazards an improperly maintained tree carries. He also suggested thinning the remaining trees to help reduce weight, which would lessen the probability of a branch falling off.

An improperly pruned limb can cause smaller branches to grow, which can weigh the tree down. Cutting off an entire branch also exposes a tree to pathogens and leads to decay, according to the report.

Improper pruning makes trees more expensive to maintain throughout their lifetime, and any branch that causes damage may lead to a finding of negligence, according to the report.

An outside contractor prunes the trees each January for $11,000, as campus maintenance workers do not have the necessary equipment to take care of the large trees.

“I think trees represent the history of SAC, whether we know it or not,” Martinez said, adding that students study better in a park-like atmosphere.

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Other trees on campus have been cut because they blocked security cameras.

“They did it backwards, they put in the cameras then cut the trees,” Safety Officer Tom Urbina said. “Some angles were so bad you saw nothing but leaves.”


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