Valley’s urban forest to soon be renovated

Many hazardous trees will be taken down at Valley College in favor of new ones that pose less risk.

By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor

A recently planted tree sapling stands near the planetarium of Valley College in as part of an effort to replace dead trees within the campus. (Photo by Jeremy Ruiz/The Valley Star)

Valley College may soon see the removal of many trees around campus, most of which are dead, to make room for the planting of new ones.


The directive, called the Urban Forest Master Plan, attempts to help the college stick to its roots as a forest by planting many varieties of trees and other plants, while removing those that have already died. Initiated in 2010, the plan has resulted in Valley being named a Tree Campus USA from 2011-2018 by the Arbor Day foundation. According to the master plan, there are currently over 1,600 trees and other plants on campus.


At a Facilities Planning Committee on March 2, faculty spoke out about the new plan, both in support of and against trees being taken down and new ones being planted.


Athletic director Dave Mallas has no problem with the trees around the baseball and softball stadiums being taken down, as he believes those are hazards as well.


“The trees out there are dead and can be cut down,” said Mallas. “They are all brown and some are sagging and can fall on something or someone if the timing is right.”


Others believe that, despite the fact that the plan facilitates the removal of hazardous trees around Valley, the new flora may cause problems of its own.


“It looks to me that the planetarium is going to be surrounded by trees again and it is going to make a mess out of our observing program,” said astronomy professor David Falk, who prefers temporary shrubs be planted instead. “My concern is that we have two different plans, landscaping and the tree plan. I don't want to have someone come in and say that we did not see your concerns and here’s a tree that’s blocking your microscope.”


Some of the trees set to be removed are leaning, causing hazards to passersby. Two of them are by the South Gym and the Allied Health and Sciences building on Ethel Avenue, and another is located by the Math and Sciences building.


Outside of being a falling hazard themselves, the trees have already injured someone. A fig from the tree by Campus Center fell on a Valley employee, forcing them to take time off. According to Vice President of Administrative Services Sarah Song, this staff member is now on worker’s compensation.


Others in the FPC meeting agreed that the fig tree should be replaced.


“It’s not just the fruit causing an injury, but a new fruit tree will feed the rodent problem, which will feed the cat problem, which will feed the coyote problem, and so on,”said theater arts professor Jennifer Read.


This is in reference to local wildlife not having enough to eat, which leads the campus coyotes to feed off of Valley’s cat population.


In addition to feeding the animals on campus, Valley’s trees are also a resource for students majoring in biology, giving them flowers to bring to class for experiments. With many trees dying, this has made it difficult for students to find the plants they need.


According to biology professor Enrique Aniceto, the problem has gotten to the point where the professors have to bring their own flowers, or ask students to bring them from home.


“Students dissect and study the different flowers,” said Aniceto. “Traditionally, we went out on campus and collected these materials for them, but it is harder now since there are not many flowers on campus.”


Valley President Barry Gribbons is trying to balance the college being a tree campus with ensuring the safety of those who attend classes.


“I think that the trees add a lot to the campus,” said Gribbons. “We have become known as the tree campus and we have a beautiful park-like setting. We want to make sure that we maintain that. For trees that are unhealthy, that sometimes means that we have to replace them — and we want to make sure that we do that in accordance with the Urban Forest Master plan.”