Archive for Monday, August 27, 2001

Growth issue

August 27, 2001

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Growing trees isn't about instant gratification.

Patience is a virtue, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and a penny saved is a penny earned. All three adages might be good reminders for Kansas University officials.

KU is about to embark on a 10-year project to spruce up the Mount Oread campus. Lawrence and KU are extremely proud of this campus and it's wonderful that private donors are willing to contribute $22 million to restore it to its traditional beauty.

Included in the plans are the planting of about 4,000 trees. That's great; everybody loves trees. But a comment by Warren Corman, university architect, probably caught the attention of some homeowners who have planted trees of their own.

"These won't be small trees," said Corman. "I'm guessing they'll be 12-foot tall, probably cost $1,000 apiece."

A thousand dollars apiece? Four million dollars to add trees to the KU campus?

Here's where the adages might apply. Small trees grow into large trees, which is where the patience comes in. The ounce of prevention would have been to have an ongoing tree planting program in place so that the small trees planted 10 years ago would be big trees today. And the penny saved would be the difference in the cost of a six-foot infant tree and a 12-foot adolescent.

OK, in the big scheme of running a university, $4 million for trees probably isn't an overwhelming expense, but to many people, that seems like a lot of money. And it suggests that a common sense approach to tree replacement might have saved the university some money over the long haul.

Growing trees isn't about instant gratification. Many of those beautiful trees that currently exist on campus were planted as seedlings by students and university workers of an earlier era. It was part of their legacy to those who would enjoy the trees in the years to come.

Those 12-foot trees will add a lot to the KU landscape in the coming years, but an ongoing program of tree replacement might provide some savings for future generations.

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