A week ago, we lost five friends at Augusta State University. Those friends were tall, slender pine trees that had graced the south side of our campus for the past 60 years.
The trees were killed because they reportedly were becoming nuisances, sending their pine needles into the adjacent cooling tower and threatening underground pipes with their roots. One remaining pine still stands at the site, but is it now under a death watch?
I wonder, this being the 21st century, if there was not a modern way to have avoided this event that many of us in the community consider an unnecessary tragedy. Screening for the cooling tower, for instance, might have redirected falling needles, and a few feet of PVC pipe could have deflected insistent roots.
Thanks to Augusta State tradition and policy, the death of these five trees means new trees will be planted somewhere on campus. But those replacements will not reach their glory for decades – a glory these pines already had attained.
If as a new university we intend to nurture and promote green space, as planners have indicated, let us begin by thinking of creative options to chopping down magnificent, healthy trees. Let’s think of alternatives first and leave the chain saw in the garage until later.
(The writer is an associate professor in the Department of Communications & Professional Writing at Augusta State University.)