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New project aiming to restore and replant Texas A&M trees

June 8, 2019
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In this photo taken April 4, 2019, ISA certified arborist supervisor J.J. Aguilar, of SSC Services for Education, shovels dirt beside a young live oak tree, one of six new trees near Texas A&M University's Spirit Plaza planted to replace ones that were in poor health in College Station, Texas. Thousands of trees at the university are getting a closer look to make sure they are thriving. The Eagle reports the large-scale project involves recording data on the estimated 11,000 trees on campus to improve their health, plus to help make way for new trees. (Laura McKenzie/College Station Eagle via AP)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Thousands of trees at Texas A&M University are getting a closer look to make sure they’re thriving.

The large-scale project involves recording data on the estimated 11,000 trees on campus to improve their health, plus to help make way for new trees, The Eagle reported.

Some campus trees, including the beloved Century Tree, are more than 100 years old and could be in poor health from nearby construction, soil and water issues plus disease, experts said.

Phillip Zellner, regional director of operations and grounds manager at SSC Services for Education, said that campus expansion and construction have added to the trees’ struggles, and triggered the need for a wide-reaching effort.

“We’re planting a new generation and trying to get age diversity in the tree canopy for campus,” Zellner said. ”(The effort) is mostly removing trees that are in decline and planting new trees.”

He added the trees being planted on campus are Texas trees cultivated at a nursery in Canton. The trees that have been removed are being chipped and composted before being put back on campus.

Sarah Boreen, customer relations manager for SSC, said talks have been ongoing about the best method regarding the declining trees on campus. In February, work started in Academic Plaza on the tree restoration and replanting project, she said.

Zellner said leaders decided to start with Academic Plaza because of its visibility and importance on campus.

“It is one of the most-photographed spots on campus, and prospective students, parents and visitors see it every day. Century Tree is there, and so it makes sense to start there,” he said.

Boreen and Zellner expressed enthusiasm for what the multipronged project will mean for Texas A&M’s trees, the campus’s aesthetic and its general health.

“The live oaks that we are planting now will still be around 100 years from now,” Zellner said.

Specialized arborists Joseph Booth and J.J. Aguilar are spearheading the project on behalf of the SSC grounds department, Texas A&M’s facilities and dining administration and the office of the university architect.

“This is the first time in at least 15 years that we have embarked on a project such as this,” Bill Cox, assistant director of Texas A&M facilities and dining administration, said in a university news release. “Our hope is to be able to do more of these types of projects to improve the overall health and quality of the tree canopy as funding becomes available.”

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Information from: The Eagle, http://www.theeagle.com

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