Event held to celebrate last autumn for campus trees

The Party for the Trees – complete with music, food and refreshments, bonfire, games, juggling acts and lessons from members of the student organization Two to Tango – helped students celebrate the last autumn of many of the trees that will have to be moved or cut down in the green space between Davies Center and Phillips Hall parking lot. Yesterday’s student-initiated event was hosted by New Student Center Project, University Centers and the University Activities Commission.

“It’s a chance to celebrate and say ‘goodbye’ to the trees that will have to be moved or cut down,” said student organizer and senior Tim Lauer, “and also as a way for students to welcome in the new Davies Center.”

The new 156,000-square-foot student center will be built on the south side of lower campus. Construction is scheduled to begin in late spring 2010, with occupancy of the building in late fall 2012, according to a university press release.

“One of the big reasons I came to Eau Claire was because it’s such a beautiful campus and it has so much green space,” said junior Mike Renner. “It will be sad to see (the trees) go, but I think this will help the campus as a whole.”

However, not all of the trees will simply be cut down.

“The trees that were small enough to be moved have already been replanted,” Lauer said, “but those that are too big have been replaced with the same species elsewhere. Unfortunately, some will have to be cut down, but we plan to incorporate the wood into the Davies Center building project.”

Replacing certain trees with the same species elsewhere on the campus grounds was important because science faculty members often use trees on campus as part of their curriculum, he said.

The crabapple trees that were planted in memory of those killed during a protest against the Vietnam War at Kent State in 1970 will be moved as well, he said. However, a replacement space has not yet been decided.

“There’s no way to do a cost-benefit analysis with something like this,” said Student Senate vice-president Amber Bretl, “but I think overall the new Davies Center will be a great attribute to the campus.”