Tree removal map released

By Matt Michalek

More trees are scheduled to come down this year at NIU, but this time steps are being taken to avoid conflict.

The NIU grounds department recently released a map of all trees on campus targeted for removal during 1992.

NIU Landscape Architect James Murphy said the grounds department prepares a tree removal map every fall. The office examines all trees on campus and marks all that are dead or dying, he said.

“Our philosophy is to remove trees that are dead or dying before they become a liability to the university community,” Murphy said.

The map, with all targeted trees marked, was presented to the environmental committee for approval.

James Harder, vice president of Business and Operations, said the committee looked at the map and asked that public notice of the plan be given before it would proceed.

“This will inform the university community of which trees the grounds department believes should be removed,” Harder said. “Then they can take the opportunity to look at the trees and concur with the grounds department.

“I expect interest to be expressed (by the university community), and welcome it,” he said.

The map will give the public a chance to actually go out and look at the trees targeted for removal. People can see that the trees are either dead or in bad shape, Murphy said.

Murphy said he did not expect a negative response by environmental groups such as last spring’s incident over the willow trees. Members of Earth First, a local environmental group, mourned the trees cut down in the King Memorial Commons.

“The removal of these trees has been planned for a while, and the environmental groups on campus had representatives on the environmental committee, which approved the plan,” he said.

Karen Levitski, president of the Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC), said they do not have a representative on the environmental committee because they are too small.

“This is the first I have heard of the plan, but if the trees are dead, then there is no problem with removing them,” she added.

“If they are not dead though, it would have to be proven to us that the trees are actually a danger before we could approve of removing them,” Levitski said.

Murphy said the grounds department has a planting program that replaces trees that are removed. “There is a nursery on the west campus, and in the spring and fall we plant trees from this nursery around campus,” he said.

Unfortunately, he said, the planting program is restricted by the budget. “As the budget is cut, we can plant less and less trees, but regardless of budget cuts, trees die,” Murphy said.

As landscape architect, Murphy is responsible for evaluating the existing landscape on campus. Some areas on campus are very old, and Murphy said he must prepare plans to renew these areas.

The campus is not like a forest preserve, Murphy said. The grounds department is responsible to protect the welfare of the students, faculty and staff of NIU.

Copies of the tree removal map can be obtained from Murphy at his office in the grounds building.