Once in a while we end up flicking around the dial on Friday evenings and land on a show called “What would you do?” It’s a hidden camera-type set up where viewers get to see the reaction of everyday folks faced with awkward or contentious situations like an overbearing customer berating a waitress over a minor mistake in their bill. The scenarios are played out by actors but the people responding are not. Personally I find the premise of the show slightly annoying because it smacks of entrapment but it seems to lure in the rest of my family.
Today we’ll do our own version of “What would you do?” In this case, however, the situation is real. Here’s the deal. Michigan State University has begun work to complete the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams or FRIB across the street from the Horticulture building. This $615 million dollar project will enable physicists to study rare nucleotides, the kind of elements that only exist for fractions of seconds. It’s definitely big science stuff and can lead to all kinds of exciting discoveries. In looking at some of the plans for the FRIB, however, some of my colleagues discovered that the FRIB completion will require removal of several large mature oak trees that close to 100 years old. The initial effort to save the oaks focused on re-locating the portion of the FRIB that conflicted: No dice. The next option was to move the oaks. Due to various factors, only one tree, a bur oak about 3 feet in diameter, can be moved. The price tag: approx. $150,000. The move date is currently set for Dec. 10. Now another option has surfaced: remove the mature oak and use the $150k to plant new trees around campus. Our landscape services typically plants 2” caliper shade trees and 6’-7’ conifers so we’re probably talking 400-500 trees. I am part of a group that will try to hash things out on Wednesday.
So, what would YOU do? Save one large mature tree or plant 400+ new?
Here’s a look at the oaks through the years…
Today. Oaks trees are located in median in center of the image.
1980 during construction of the Wharton Center for Performing Arts