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Vigil held to share concerns about removal of oak trees from MU’s Francis Quadrangle

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A vigil Thursday morning hopes to bring attention to removing more than a dozen pin oak trees from the University of Missouri's campus. Organizers started the vigil for the trees Thursday morning at the Francis Quadrangle.

"Today we watched with heavy hearts as the University of Missouri began felling the majestic pink oaks on the historic quadrangle," co-organizer Laurie Wren said. "The intended clear-cutting of 15 70-year-old oaks belies the MU mission statement that 'We are stewards and builders of a priceless state resource.'"

MU started the planned removal of 15 pin oak trees Wednesday. The school says after reviewing with experts, the trees have reached the end of their life and are now a safety hazard to the campus community.

Jeff Stack, the other organizer, and Wren are the only two people who showed up for the vigil. However, those two said they feel they speak for those in spirit who didn't want the 15 trees cut all at once.

MU shared its plans to replace the trees with so-called 'Legacy Oaks' over the summer in a press release on May 9. The Legacy Oaks are white oak trees donated by alumni and grown at MU's South Farm, according to the university.

"For more than 70 years the pin oak trees have stood guard and provided a beautiful backdrop for the Columns and historic buildings here," said MU's Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Micahel Graves. "However, these noble trees have reached the end of their natural lifespan and are a potential safety hazard to pedestrians and buildings. Replacing them is essential to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors."

The new Legacy Oak trees are expected to have a lifespan of around 200 years.

The vigil organizers want Mizzou to replace one to two trees each year over the next decade instead of removing all 15 at once. The demonstrators believe their recommendation would create less disruption to wildlife.

"You know when the students come back in the fall and they have no source of shade here in the quadrangle, what will it do to them? I mean I think it will increase the stress level for them, you know it may make it a much more difficult place psychologically for folks," vigil organizer Jeff stack said.

MU said it is evaluating the wood as it comes down to see what the school can save. However, The university says it was told pin oak is not favorable in the commercial industry to build with.

MU says it anticipates it will take a couple of weeks to clear all of the trees, however that will depend on the weather.

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Zachary Farwell

Zachary Farwell is the assignment editor and former senior producer at ABC 17 News.

Joushua Blount

Joushua Blount hails from Cleveland, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in media communications from the University of Toledo. He also has a master’s degree from the University Of Alabama. Roll Tide!

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