Western Michigan University students and community members marched Wednesday, November 14, to protest the planned removal of more than thirty trees. The university wants to cut them down to make way for construction of new student housing.
The trees will be removed from the Western’s South Neighborhood near Stadium Drive. But university spokeswoman Paula Davis says Western’s campus will have more trees than it does now after construction ends.
“There'll be 75 trees planted, for the 36 healthy trees that will be removed, and the one that will be diseased. In the end, there will actually be more trees on campus then there are today.”
Davis says 12 other trees will be relocated elsewhere on campus, and nine of the 58 trees at the site will remain.
But that doesn't sit well with opponents of the plan. Western senior Abbie Bristol helped organize the march protesting removal of the trees. She says the age of the trees being cut down makes them especially important to the environment.
“They’re mature, highly productive trees that are very large in diameter, and as a biology student, and a student studying environmental science and sustainability, we closely study climate change, the ecological impacts of these large trees. And by taking them down, up to 60 trees, that’s an ecological impact.”
The march was also organized by several campus groups, including Students for a Sustainable Earth. Bristol says she hopes the university will delay removing the trees until opponents have a chance to make their case for keeping them.
“The University has really good plans, it’s a really beautiful design (for the new housing complex). But, we are still in the dark about the ecological impact, and we feel that it’s not being properly addressed, the relevant people have not been properly involved in that conversation. So that’s what our request is, making sure that those voices, input, is meaningful and impactful.”
Davis says the university does take environmental concerns into consideration before projects begin. Removal of the trees is scheduled to begin the week of November 19.