For over 250 years a bur oak has been growing on what is now the campus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The University is currently constructing its new Ross School of Business and the large tree’s seniority has run out, it stands in the way of progress. However, rather than just cutting down the oak and removing the stump, UM has decided to preserve this piece of natural history and relocate the tree instead. This is not necessarily the cheapest, easiest or fastest thing to do, but they have decided the benefits of preserving the tree outweigh the costs.
In preparation for the big move, the tree’s root ball was excavated to the greatest extent possible, it was lifted up enough to squeeze large rubber bags underneath. These long, thick inner tube-like devices allowed for the actual transport to slip below the tree. The tree sat on a raft of pipes designed specifically for this purpose and the rubber backs were inserted, deflated, beneath. The bur oak’s root ball had a 44 inch diameter and was wrapped in burlap and plastic for the 500 foot journey down the pedestrian walkway to its new home. This video is a computer animation developed to help visualize this complicated process:
Philanthropist, Stephen Ross, the namesake for the new school, donated 1 million dollars, $400, 000 of which is being used for the tree relocation alone. The school had never relocated a tree of this size and were unsure it could even be done, and still this plan does not please everyone; some say it is too much to spend on 1 tree (the same amount of money could have preserved 120 acres of forested land according to one Michigan forester), while others don’t agree with the new location. Nevertheless, no one could have watched this process without being in awe of the sheer size and age of the bur oak, nor the ingenuity of man.
For more information on tree relocation and care following transplant contact your arborist or visit: http://www.savatree.com/tree-service.html.