Campus Trees Cut in Heritage Halls Construction

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For the last couple of semesters, BYU students have lived with a lot of construction throughout campus. While most understand it is part of improving campus, it can be a hassle to deal with the noise, dust and road blocks around construction sites. There is also another issue — environment.

This semester, four new Heritage Halls were opened to single students, replacing the old Deseret Towers which were torn down several years ago. The original Heritage Halls will also be demolished in stages and replaced by new buildings. However, some are concerned about the trees which will be cut down in the area as they might be some of the oldest on campus.

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Trees located on the old Heritage site are being torn down with the buildings. Some of these trees are thought to be the oldest on campus.
“The oldest trees we have on campus are actually located around the Former President’s Home and the area around the Maeser Building,” said Carri Jenkins, BYU spokeswoman, in an email. “With that said, careful consideration and planning went into determining the removal of the trees at Heritage Halls. We are making every effort to preserve the trees on the perimeter of the project.”

According to Jenkins, the trees that are removed will be transported to BYU’s handling area, where they will be recycled and returned back to the Heritage Halls area in the form of a mulching material. With the four residence halls that have been completed, BYU will be landscaping that area with 2,800 shrubs, 175 trees and 76,000 square feet of sod.  BYU will give similar attention to these new buildings that are underway.

Phil Allen, a BYU landscape management professor, said even if buildings are not built right over trees, the roots can extend out much farther than the branches of the trees above ground, and if they are damaged it can make the tree unstable and unsafe. The BYU Grounds Department has also learned over the years that if the roots are not carefully removed, they can compromise buried power lines, pipes, tunnels and foundations.

“Those of us who are passionate about trees are always sad when a majestic tree is lost,”Allen said. “However, life goes on and we plant more trees. I plant trees every year in my life.”

The original Heritage Halls were completed in 1953 and 1956 and dedicated as a group, said Julie Franklin from the BYU Housing Department, in an email. Currently 800 students are living in the new Heritage Halls. Four more new halls will be added, first two on the north of the Morris Center, then another two on the north of the 9th East BYU Creamery.

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