Trees lining historic Mizzou quad being uprooted in name of safety
The noble trees are being replaced by a white oak species that will live for more than 200 years
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Ask any alumni from the University of Missouri-Columbia what the most iconic place on campus is, and the Francis Quadrangle would dominate the responses.
Many of the college's oldest buildings border the quad's historic columns — all that remains of Academic Hall which was destroyed by fire in 1892. They stand tall on lush turf and are surrounded by colorful flowerbeds. It's also a popular location to unwind and take in all the beauty of the 183-year-old campus.
HERE’S WHY DOCTORS ACROSS THE US ARE PRESCRIBING A DAY IN NATURE FOR GOOD HEALTH
Another part of that rich history is 15 of the remaining original 26 pin oaks framing the quad. They were planted as saplings and are now dying. Some have succumbed to diseases common in pin oaks. For others, their lifespan was somewhat shortened by damage caused when an irrigation system was installed in the 1990s, the university said.
HOW TO WATCH FOX WEATHER ON TV
"For more than 70 years the pin oak trees have stood guard and provided a beautiful backdrop for the columns and historic buildings here," said Michael Graves, associate vice chancellor for facilities. "However, these noble trees have reached the end of their natural lifespan and are a potential safety hazard to pedestrians and buildings. Replacing them is essential to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors."
Campus officials said the only truly long-term fix was to replace the pin oaks with something better adapted to the current conditions of the quad. New Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quadrangle will now be planted.
NEW YORK’S CENTRAL PARK NOW DOUBLES AS LAB TO STUDY CLIMATE CHANGE
They were donated by College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources alumni Wayne Lovelace and his daughter Kim Lovelace-Hainsfurther in 2019 and grown at MU’s South Farm. The white oak species will live for more than 200 years and have the longest lifespan of the oaks.
It took four years with the help of the Mizzou Botanic Garden, faculty and staff experts, and arborists from outside the university to develop a plan to replace the aging trees to maintain the quad's historic look.
'IT'S THE TREE EVERYONE ROOTS FOR': WASHINGTON'S 'TREE OF LIFE' CLINGS TO SURVIVAL AGAINST ALL ODDS
"Universities are a dynamic place, and their grounds and facilities are always changing," said Bill Ruppert, Mizzou Botanic Garden board member and former Mizzou employee. "But the quad is the one place on campus I can come back to and have it feel the same as it was when I was on campus all those years ago. The Legacy Oaks project is going to ensure students 200 years from now have that same experience."
The remaining pin oaks will be removed between May 18 and June 3. Once removed, the university said they will determine if any part is salvageable and then figure out what can be done with the wood.
The new white oaks will be planted over the summer. All the trees will be planted at the same time, the university said, so they grow at relatively the same rate.
If you’d like to support the Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quadrangle, click here.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX WEATHER UPDATE PODCAST
Be sure to download the FOX Weather app for the latest forecast and weather alerts for your exact location, plus the 24/7 livestream of America’s Weather Team.