“Those who come to Campbellsville University can sit quietly on the soft grass of Montgomery lawn and hear the trees’ whispers of those who have come before them, almost seeing their predecessors’ stories unfold, the past laid out right in front of their eyes. One hundred years of history, right there on that lawn through the eyes of the massive oak trees,” said Michaela Miles, a 201l graduate.
Rob Roberts, director of grounds and landscape development at Campbellsville University, thought there would be an eerie silence on the lawn since it looked like it was the final fall for many of the trees.
But it appears that will not be the case.
“My friend Steve Dalton, retired forester with Kentucky Department of Forestry, assessed many of the trees on the lawn of Montgomery Library and said they would have to come down due to a decline.”
Roberts called the Kentucky Department of Forestry who sent 17-year veteran forester, Brian Yager, to give an informal assessment of health of the university’s trees.
“I used a technique called sounding where I hit the tree with the backside of an ax and listen if it rings with hollowness which indicates the integrity of the tree, and I look visually for fungi, rot and stunted growth, and many other things,” Yager said.
After his assessment, Yager determined that some of the trees required monitoring but not immediate removal.
Roberts said the university tries not to remove trees but let them grow naturally.
However, they are forced to sometimes cut branches down or cut the tree down in its entirety due to hazards of fallen limbs on people, vehicles and infrastructure.
While on campus, Yager noted the need for more diversity of the tree population.
“Coming from a landscaping background, must private owners desire mostly ornamental and often non-native trees or plants that add to the beauty of their property, however I feel CU as a university could turn into an arboretum like the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Ky. and showcase the various natives species of Kentucky,” Yager said.
Dr. Gordon Weddle is a professor of biology at CU and director of Clay Hill Memorial Forest, the university’s 158-acre natural forest located eight miles from campus.
“We have the forest which is open to students and public free of cost, but it would be great to share the beauty of Kentucky’s tree species right here on the main campus,” Weddle said.
Roberts envisions a multigenerational project by the university to take CU from one to three species to more than 100 species of trees.
“We plan to have the forestry department come back out when they slow down for the season and help us formally assess our trees that are over one foot in diameter, so we can develop an action plan for the upkeep of them,” Roberts said.
According to Yager, people have a natural infinity toward trees and understand the concerns that students and faculty members have had in hearing the news that some of the trees possibly had to be cut down.
“Trees are as long living as human beings and people look at them accordingly because they resemble us in many ways, long living and resilient,” Yager said.
The university participated in Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric’s “Plant for the Planet” program, which provides a matching grant which allowed the purchase of more than 35 trees.
The species will be oak, birch wood and maple.
Wed, November 7, 2012
by Gerry James