Have you heard about the Great Tree Crisis?
Sycamore High School decided to chop down 10 big sycamore trees near the track and HS Stadium.
So, without notice or explanation, they did.
You might think people would not notice. You’d be wrong. You might think students would not care. You would again be wrong. You might think the community would hope the school would do the right thing and ignore the situation. Once more, not so much.
There was a hue and cry. There was much ado about trees. There was social media impact. Classroom learning was disrupted by conversation about the trees. Parent shook their heads over the loss misuse of a teachable moment. Students ridiculed the notion that they couldn’t run on the track if there were leaves in the way.
All of which led (several many days later) to this letter from the principal.
We have been hearing a number of concerns regarding the removal of the trees along the turf field and track facility next to the Gregory Center. We are hoping that this information can be helpful for those concerned so that they know this is a process and we are in the beginning stages of a transition in that area. Hopefully these notes will help our stakeholders understand the rationale for this decision and future plans to address the area:
- The trees are being removed due to the current and potential damaging effects that they can have to the newer turf field and also the new track surface. Unfortunately, the maintenance of the turf facility and track require special equipment. Removal of leaves and other debris from the trees can be difficult and potentially damaging to the facility. In order to properly maintain and protect the recent investment of over $1,000,000 in this facility, we made the decision to remove the trees.
- The safety of our students running or dodging the debris prior to clean up was a continual and most pressing concern. The students and athletes using the facility were constantly dealing with debris in their path and on playing surfaces for events. Maintenance personnel were doing their best to remove it, but cannot be there at all hours of the day.
- We are planning appropriate plantings/vegetation to replace the trees. We are looking at bushes and trees that would not spray debris onto the playing or running surfaces. It will add value and character to the area without doing damage to the facility like the current trees. The plantings will be completed in the Spring 2016. We are also looking at adding Sycamore trees to other areas of campus where the debris will not affect our practice and game facilities.
As you are aware, these are all decisions that we make for the protection of our students and of our facilities. We always strive to do what is best for our students and our district. It is our hope that the community will trust that we will complete this process and continue to make these type of decisions in the future. Our apologies for the disruption that the tree removal may have caused to you and or any emotional feelings surrounding the removal.
We will continue to try to make improvements to the campus to not only enhance the learning environment but to be fiscally responsible in maintaining the campus.
Doug Mader, Principal
This did exactly nothing to calm the situation. (And yes, I am silently correcting his grammar.)
So the Lorax and other tree people measured the diameter of the tree stumps (about 200 inches total) to hold the district (and by “district” I mean the school principal) accountable for replacing an equivalent amount of tree trunk. (Turns out, when you’re a public entity and you cut down trees, you have to replace them with an equivalent sum of tree diameters so that you don’t have too big an impact on the environment. It also turns out that not everyone trusts that the district will do this of their own volition. At least not in this decade.)
There will undoubtedly be more to the story.
And hug a tree.