Thanksgiving holiday snow storm damages grounds, 10 trees cut down

Scott Murphy, News Editor

On Wednesday November 26th, the college’s Grounds Maintenance staff began several long days of work attending to campus trees that had been damaged by the snowstorm that struck New England during this past Thanksgiving.

Ground Maintenance staff members worked through Wednesday night until Thursday morning, at which point they went home to celebrate the holiday with their families before returning to work on Friday.

The primary goal of the operation was to eliminate any safety concerns created by damaged trees before students returned to campus on Sunday November 30th.

This first involved the clearing of all campus walkways and roads, followed by an assessment of all of the campus’ trees in order to determine what level of maintenance that they required.

This included pruning of hanging branches on roughly 30 trees and the felling of 10 trees that could not be salvaged.

Damage from this past storm was more severe than that of the ice storm of 2008, which Ground Supervisor Kim Britton attributes to the lack of wind.

“Because there was no wind to keep snow off of the branches and pine needles, more was able to accumulate and weigh trees down,” Britton explained.

Two large trees behind the Goulet Science Center received enough damage to necessitate their removal, something that was marked as unfortunate by Professor Eric Berry of the Biology Department due to their age.

“By my quick count of tree rings, the large Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) was somewhere around 100 years old,” Berry shared. “I didn’t get a chance to count the rings on the other tree, a Norway Spruce (Picea abies), but judging by its size it must have been of similar age to the pine.”

Berry continued by sharing that “It makes me sad; just think of all the changes these two old-timers must have seen. The next time we have trees that big, the college may be celebrating another 125 years.”

He also suggested that recent road and building construction in the surrounding area certainly had an effect on the trees’ growth.

Assistance Vice President of Facilities Bill Furlong stated that while there will be a tree replacement effort, “You cannot replace a 100 year old tree with another one, unfortunately.”

Furlong made a point to highlight that the college pays for periodic visits from a tree company to inspect and maintain the trees on campus in order to minimize the damage done in storms like these.