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Trees Removed Behind Bldg. 1, Due for Replacement

Some 17 red oak and pin oak trees located behind Bldg. 1 were recently removed owing to ill health and the hazard they posed for people and property. They will be replaced by new willow oaks in the coming weeks.

According to Lynn Mueller, chief of the grounds maintenance and landscaping section, ORS, the 35-65 year old trees had outgrown their living quarters years ago. "Over the past 5 to 7 years, those trees have gone into a steady decline," he said. "Almost yearly summer droughts over those past years have contributed to their decline. The trees have been pruned almost annually in that time at great expense and they continued to have crown dieback."

A tree past its prime

Mueller said NIH had to pay for repairs to three cars damaged by falling branches in recent years. "In those narrow islands (where the trees were confined) the trees had become a hazard to people and property and were taking too large a percentage of our campus tree maintenance budget," he said. "The stumps will be removed and replaced with willow oaks, the best oak for this growing situation. The young trees will be planted either later this fall or late winter depending upon weather conditions for transplanting and availability. Trees will be in place for this coming spring.

One of 17 oaks that fell

"The removal decision was actually made last year at this time, but then we decided to do a late fall pruning and hope the rains would come," Mueller continued. "Ground water under all that paving is almost nonexistent. The trees were deep-root fertilized and aerated in the winter of 1998. I think we did all we could. They had reached their maximum potential and could no longer sustain themselves. When we remove the stumps we'll try to remove as much of the existing compacted backfill soil as possible and replace it with fresh topsoil. This will help the new trees for years to come. Trees are living, breathing things and, like us, do not live forever."

Barriers prove confining

Mueller said the trees were being girdled by the steel pipe guards that were installed when the trees were planted in the parking lot's narrow islands, to keep car bumpers from hitting them. "From looking at the growth rings, it is obvious that all the trees were in decline for the last 15 years," he said. "The rings for the past 12-15 years were compressed into 1-1 ½ inches of growth while the previous 50 years had about 12-15 inches of growth. They definitely had reached their maximum growth potential about 10 years ago."

A girdled stump remains

No room to grow

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