The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Tree removal makes SSU question its roots

    When students drive down East Cotati Ave. at the entrance to Sonoma State, the first thing they’ll notice are the Redwood trees lined up along the street.

    The SSU Facilities Management have teamed up with a local arborist and identified several trees that required removal from campus. 

    The project included the removal of Eucalyptus trees, located along the west side of campus, and the property line shared with Rancho Cotate High School. A Redwood tree at the northeast corner of Stevenson Hall is also expected to be removed within the next several months due to its rapid decline.

    Because of their rapid decline, these trees were identified as reaching an end of life cycle and posed a risk to the campus community. The other larger trees that are plus 40′ in height are typically contracted out.

    “As sad as it is that they’re gonna be cutting out trees, if it poses a safety risk to students it’s better to be safe,” said first year business major Alan Hebert. “I just hope they don’t cut too many of them down.” 

    In a statement released to the university, Associate Vice President Dana Twedell said, “We’ll be working on our trees for the remainder of the calendar year. At the end of the year, we’ll reassess and create a new plan for the next calendar year. Tree care is a continual, ongoing effort. A lot of the tree care work will be coordinated in-house.”

    This is not the first time that SSU has conducted tree removal on campus. 

    Back in 2019 during winter break, Facilities Management removed trees with heavy foliage – or ones that raised concern for a safety risk – and planted trees in its replacement in a program called “One for One.” 

    According to the SSU Newsletter, this meant that for every tree removed, a new one would be planted in that same area or in another spot around campus. 

    “We recently hired a new Tree Care Worker II, Greg McDivitt, as a permanent full time position and he’s doing a great job in getting our trees pruned up in support of optimal tree health. We’re very thankful for all of his hard work and dedication,” Twedell said. “Our campus Landscape Manager, Troy McArdle, works with a local Arborist. [He works with] representatives from the Biology Department, our Tree Care Worker II, and one of several local tree care maintenance service providers.” 

    Trees on campus are assessed annually by a third party arborist. Each tree is graded on a scale of 0 to 100: 0 being dead,100 being in perfect health. The trees that Facilities Management have first assessed are those that have been deemed “dead” or in “poor” condition. 

    Over the course of the next several months, they will be working across campus to mitigate the inherent risk of falling limbs and branches.

    Although most students like seeing the trees on campus, other students agree that trimming and cutting down trees are just as important as conserving them. 

    Fifth year sociology major Kendall B. said, “I think the trees are what make Sonoma State. I mean, the first thing people see are the redwood trees. It’s cool.” 

    “Personally, I don’t wanna be crushed by a falling limb,” said first year undeclared major T.J. Vine. “So I think what they’re doing is important.” 

    “If not managed and cared for properly, dead trees may give rise to infestation, like termites and beetles that may expand to healthy trees and campus structures,” said M. Monir Ahmed, Vice President of Administration and Finance. “Unmanaged trees also pose a risk to campus safety; students, faculty, staff, visitors as well as our facilities and properties during bad weather seasons. They can also be a source of fuel for fires.” 

    Twedell added that the process is a cohesive approach. Because of this, SSU usually teams up with a third party Arborist and implements appropriate tree care pruning methods to keep the trees in optimal health, as well as address any trees that could pose harm to the campus.

    He said, “In addition to tree removal, we continue to implement a managed tree care program to support the health of our trees and the safety of our campus. We will continue to partner with faculty members in academic areas such as the Biology Department, and appreciate the continued collaboration.”

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