Heritage trees, groves protect leafy past

October 04, 2001

Few American colleges or universities can boast of tree populations with the scope and diversity found on the University Park campus, so it's not surprising that many people in the University community consider a specific campus tree or grove their favorite.

Now, a new policy (MO163) seeks to protect on-campus trees and groves that have exceptional historical, cultural and/or aesthetic value because of age or an association with an important event or person. In order to put the policy into full effect, the University Tree Commission is calling for nominations from across the campus for these "Heritage Trees" and "Heritage Groves."

"The Tree Commission advises the Office of Physical Plant regarding trees that may need to be removed due to disease or damage, that are to be added as part of new landscaping or that could be lost to construction -- particularly those trees that are, or could become, of great value to the University," noted Kelleann Foster, associate professor of landscape architecture and chair of the commission. "The Heritage designation will be pretty selective, because it will grant trees a level of protection that will influence future campus planning considerations."

The commission will collect nominations from faculty, staff and students, and review the short form that nominators need to provide about the trees' or groves' historical or cultural value. The commission will then recommend those that seem most worthy of protection to the Assistant Vice President for Physical Plant for review and endorsement. Final approval authority will lie with the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business.

"By definition, the value of a Heritage Tree is such that replacement of the tree in-kind would be impossible," Foster said. "An example of a Heritage Tree candidate would be a tree of great character and vitality that predates Penn State's founding in 1855. Another example would be the lone remaining 'Ghost Walk' Norway Spruce behind Old Botany."

A Web site at http://www.psu.edu/ur/about/trees.html shows examples of some notable trees.

According to the policy, Heritage Groves are groupings of trees that have significant historical, cultural and/or aesthetic value in the aggregate, but which might be replaceable as individuals. Examples of Heritage Grove candidates include Hort Woods along Park Avenue and the American Elms on the Allen Street Mall.

The first round of nominations for Heritage Trees and Heritage Groves will run through Nov. 15 and windows of opportunity for future nominations will open on an as-needed basis to be determined by the Tree Commission. A five-year cycle is likely. Nominations must include the location of the candidate tree/grove and a short narrative explaining how it fulfills at least one of the four criteria of age, historic significance, location/setting and size/habitat for heritage designation.

For information on the policy, the procedures for nominations and a printable nomination form, visit http://www.psu.edu/ur/about/trees.html; or call Foster at (814) 863-8133 or e-mail kxf15@psu.edu; or call commission member Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology, at (814) 865-9351 or e-mail Steiner@psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009