November 28, 2002

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Presented to Antioch College campus—
Policy would protect campus trees

Antioch College and a campus environmental advisory board known as GreenCil are working on preliminary plans to protect and vitalize some of the rarer and historic trees on campus. Concerns brought forward by faculty and students about the cutting of several trees in the past year prompted GreenCil to present to students a rough draft of a new tree policy.

Under the policy, all trees on campus would be divided into two categories: registered and nonregistered. Registered trees would be tagged and monitored (most likely by science and environmental studies classes as well as GreenCil) and their removal would require written approval. Unregistered trees would simply require notification by maintenance that they are going to be removed.

In addition, to limit the removal of trees the policy suggests that for every registered tree cut down, the college plant three on campus within six months, and at least two of those new trees must be considered registered status.

In the past year, six trees have been cut down on the campus, including two prominent trees, a Norway pine outside of the Olive Kettering Library that was hit by lightening and the large tree located at the entrance of Pennell House off President Street.

Although Edward Remy, director of the Antioch Physical Plant, said that these trees were only cut down for safety reasons or to provide access to crucial equipment, many students wanted the college to adopt an official tree-preservation policy.

Various members of GreenCil compiled the draft, which is now being discussed on campus. While GreenCil’s role is advisory, and its members do not have the power to enact the policy, the group does maintain the role of producing Antioch’s environmental policies.

GreenCil was formed by three 1999 graduates, Alex Stadtner, Ruby Thompson and Maya Nye, who developed the idea in response to a project that asked students to do something that would affect their community.

Antioch was founded in 1853 on a barren cornfield. In 1860, Antioch’s second president, Thomas Hill, began the process of planting saplings all over campus. Within 30 years, the population of both native and exotic species flourished throughout the college grounds.

By the 1920s, the area between North Hall and the Horace Mann monument became a lush grove of elm trees but a case of Dutch elm disease spurred their removal. Other factors led to the removal or destruction of trees on the campus, such as the flood of 1954, a wave of locusts in 1957 and the introduction of invasive species.

Nevertheless, Antioch continued to take pride in the diversity of fauna found on campus. In 1967 the Antioch Arboretum was created on Main Lawn. Many of the trees planted there were gifts or memorials from and by alumni and residents of Yellow Springs.

Some current students, however, believe that while the college maintained an environmentalist attitude, its actual policies do not fully reflect that philosophy. A couple of years ago Antioch joined hundreds of other schools in signing the Talloires Declaration, an international declaration by college presidents citing environmental sensitivity as an institutional goal.

According to the proposed tree policy draft, “In a growing environmental enlightenment, university and college campuses across the world have begun adopting policies to protect and vitalize tree communities that exist on campuses.”

The policy recommends that Antioch follow three methods of preserving trees that are also used at other colleges and which could be implemented together.

For example, the policy says that single- tree protection has generally involved preserving “heritage,” or donated, and “specific” trees, such as some of the 100-year-old oaks on Main Lawn or trees planted as memorials. The policy says that while this method can be viewed as a means of “greenwashing” or presenting an air of environmentalism to the public, it can be an effective practice when used with the creation of an arboretum and campus-wide tree-management practices.

Many of the recommendations found in the policy stem from the class work of students. For example, in order for some actions to take place, the college must survey the existing tree population on campus. Fortunately, a recent senior project cataloged a majority of the campus.

The policy also says that publicizing and sharing the effort may be one of the most important ingredients for success. Since Antioch students are aware that the Village is considering adopting a tree-preservation policy, GreenCil invites Yellow Springs residents to attend its meetings, which are held on Thursdays, at 9 a.m., in the Antioch Inn, located adjacent to the Student Union. For more information, call 769-1050.


—Michael Hogan Jr.