“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”–John Muir
There are very few things I despise as much as seeing people destroy trees. I cried the day my Pa had some of our pines cut and harvested. I guess it has to do with the fact that our house sits in the middle of 80 acres and I had the freedom to roam the woods behind our house with wild abandon. I love being outside. I love walking in the woods. I love the creatures that live in the woods. I love trees.
But, I hate fools.
Several weeks ago someone called a sports show and bragged about poisoning the oaks at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. Last week, turfgrass and agronomy professors told our classes that, indeed, the trees had been hit with a heavy dose of tebuthiuron, also known as Spike 80DF. This week the university made a formal announcement that the oaks were not likely to survive.
I have always known that football rivalries ran deep. Heck, that’s one of the reasons I’m at Auburn and not the University of Florida. I, however, was unaware of the “dedication” some individuals have to their teams or the stupidity of said individuals.
Now, I know that this is an agriculture site and that you don’t want to read some angry rant from a college kid. But, this brings up some interesting questions:
1) Is this a restricted pesticide? How did this person come by it?
2) Is this herbicide dangerous to the THOUSANDS of people that roll the trees after games? What about those that simply enjoy downtown?
3) Is this illegal?
Well, the authorities certainly aren’t handing out medals for this person’s actions. See here.
(Oh, as a side note, the guy that poisoned Treaty Oak in Texas in the 80s, received 9 years in prison for his upstanding actions.)
4) Do they have any idea who did this?
Well, actually… he kinda called and bragged about it. But innocent until proven guilty, right?
5) And finally, what does this mean for Auburn?
According to President Gogue:
“We will take every step we can to save the Toomer’s oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community.
“It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism. However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts.”
So what are Auburn students (and fans) to do in a situation like this?
I’ll give you a hint.
We just roll with it.
Until next time,
PS– I would be a horrible blogger if I forgot to acknowledge the hard work of those in Auburn University’s College of Ag that have worked hard testing the tree and the surrounding soil for problems. I appreciate everything they have done to get this taken care of in a timely manner.
PPS–To see the webcam in real time visit The City of Auburn’s site.