Fresno State faculty and students alike are expressing outrage and sadness at what's being called 'Treemageddon,' the removal of more than 150 mature trees to make room for an additional 600 parking spaces on the east side of campus.
It's been alleged that the only advance notice the trees were going to be cut down came in the form of a faculty email from the campus parking administrator last Wednesday, the same day the chopping began. Many students learned of the situation through emails and blogs after the fact.
"There was no word prior about this atrocious removal of these old, beautiful trees," said Fresno State English professor Magda Gilewicz to the Fresno Bee. "In Fresno, where we have one of the worst air pollution in the country, we cannot afford to lose any trees.”
Biology professor Madhusudan Katti told KSEE 24 News that he’s now lost valuable teaching tools in the parking lot expansion as well.
"These trees are habitats to many birds,” he said. “Birds my students have been studying and they've lost study sites now."
Fresno State responded with a press release on Friday from Cynthia Matson, the school’s vice president for administration/CFO, claiming that the tree removal was necessary for security reasons, and promises that new trees will be planted in their place. Among those new plantings are to include Chinese pistache trees, chosen for their “vivid fall colors and high canopy.”
“Safety was a top priority in designing the new space,” Matson said in the release, as reported by 940 KYNO. “The previous design of the three lots posed many public safety challenges. Thoughtful placement of 150 new trees is designed to provide unobstructed line of sight for five security cameras. Five emergency phones also will be placed within the new parking lot.”
The release goes on to say that some of the felled trees were diseased, with healthy crape myrtles being uprooted and saved. Many of the trees were “mulched for future use throughout campus.”
The lot expansion is a $4 million project (funded through student parking fees) with an expected completion date of August 15.