Press Release: Friends Occupy 400 Year Old Tree Root Zones



Virginia Tech continues to park football player vehicles on the root zones and under the ancient canopy of 400 year old trees in the old growth campus forest known as Stadium Woods. Despite repeated requests by campus and community constituents, vehicles are parked the day before home football games and protected by security guards for 24 hours or longer.

Friends of Stadium Woods will OUTLINE and OCCUPY the root zones of the 400 year old trees today to protect them from the parking abuse and root compaction mandated by the VA Tech Athletic Department, sanctioned by facilities and parking services, and authorized by senior administrators.

In August these departments and administrators dismissed the concerns of VA Tech forestry professors and, “concluded the occasional use by athletic department students was an acceptable practice.” They asserted, “we will continue to monitor this practice to ensure it has no unintended consequences.”

Unfortunately the football players and the health of the ancient trees are pawns in this struggle. We empathize with the players’ predicament and consider them blameless. When informed of the damage being inflicted by their vehicle parking players were apologetic and remorseful. However they stress that they are following the orders of the athletic department.

Associate athletic director Tom Gabbard is quoted in an October 3rd Collegiate Times article, “We needed a place for the team to park that’s convenient.” He says they have no plans for moving the players’ cars at this time.

The rare old growth forest is not a parking lot. Tree roots are extremely sensitive to compaction which occurs when vehicles are driven over and parked in the root zone. This compaction causes great harm to the trees that may not be apparent for years. Trees are living, breathing organisms with roots located in the top 6″ to 24″ of soil. A third of a tree’s total biomass lies below ground extending well beyond the canopy drip line.

The Occupy 400 demonstration today is a direct result of the lack of respect and leadership shown by VA Tech administrators to identify a suitable solution to this problem. Please join us today in Stadium Woods for the Occupy 400 event that commenced this morning.

About rebekah

Rebekah Paulson is the Executive Director of The Friends of Stadium Woods. Rebekah previously worked for the World Resources Institute, an environmental “think and do tank” in Washington DC, and The AES Corporation, a global power company, headquartered in Arlington, VA. Since 2001, Rebekah has focused on local volunteer efforts with Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, the VA Synod ELCA, Blacksburg Newcomers Club, Volunteer Emergency Foster Care, Sustainable Blacksburg, the Ecumenical Environmental Effort, and NRV Cares. She is the current President of Southside Garden Club.


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