Oak Tree Down at old Wilkinson/Montgomery Parking Lot

The Georgia College campus community raised concerns regarding the removal of the large oak tree that shaded the former commuter/resident parking lot at the intersection of Wilkinson and Montgomery. Although the school, neighborhood, and environment lost a valuable addition to the local ecosystem, the reasons for removing the tree are more than what it seems.

At first glance, the tree seemed to have been removed in order to create space for the new Integrated Science Complex (ISC), but after talking with some officials, other factors, including rot deterioration and life expectancy of the tree played a role in making the decision to cut it. 

White rot in Oak tree after being cut down.

Lori Strawder, Chief Sustainability Officer for Georgia College, confirmed that an arborist came to evaluate the tree before it was removed. The arborist determined that the tree only had approximately 5 years left to live, therefore, it was decided that removal would occur before the construction was well underway. Salvageable parts of the tree will hopefully be incorporated into the interior design of the all-new ISC in commemoration of the great oak tree.

The tree’s interior consisted of white and black deteriorated wood rot which is commonly found in urban-dwelling trees. Most trees in urban areas have limbs that need to be trimmed or removed if they pose a risk to citizens or get tangled in power lines. After these limbs are removed, a wound forms in place of the missing limb, similar to a wound on a human. Open wounds are vulnerable to diseases and this is when most trees acquire black and white rot.

Black and white rot in oak tree interior

White rot refers to fungi that absorb nutrients from the tree and leave behind a wooden husk, which turns white from lack of nutrients. Black rot also refers to fungal decay of the tree itself, usually from the inside out, but leaves behind a dark color.

In addition, Shea Groebner, Assistant Director of Facilities Management for Environmental Health & Safety, stated that the asphalt and concrete that once was the parking lot will be recycled during construction. Although construction is not always environmentally-friendly, we are glad to know that steps are being taken in an effort to minimize the environmental impact of the construction for the ISC!

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