By Maddie Conley, Web Content Manager
Back in August, we saw many trees come down to make way for parking, but today 180 new trees were planted with the hopes of keeping Messiah a sustainable campus.
“Knowing we were going to be losing a large grove of trees on campus, we wanted to do our part to replace those,” Brandon Hoover, Director of Sustainability said.
Twenty different species of trees were planted by the Office of Sustainability and a group of volunteers. The saplings, including sycamore, maple and poplar, were planted behind the library, behind the baseball field and by the men’s Restoration House.
Today was the first of two plantings; the next, coming in the spring will add 500 more saplings along the entrance to the school.
“We have a good local population and we want to keep improving that,” said Rebecca Lauver, the biodiversity coordinator at the Office of Sustainability.
The Office of Sustainability worked in conjunction with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a nonprofit organization that focuses on conservation efforts in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. They provided all the trees and supplies for the event.
Lauver, the brains behind the project, explained the process of deciding which trees would be planted and where. They needed to make sure the species they chose were native to the area—to encourage having native animals and insects.
“This just shows a commitment to having diverse local ecosystems,” Lauver said. “Trees are just so helpful in so many ways.”
Chesapeake Forests Program Manager from the Alliance, Ryan Davis, said that these trees will help with stream health by keeping the water cool, filtering the water and holding the banks back with their roots.
Lauver noted that Messiah has committed to keeping these trees for at least 30 years as part of their partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
“They will be there for a long time, which is really cool,” she said.
Madeline Troyer, a sustainability major, is a senior, but her quickly approaching graduation date didn’t stop her from investing her time in the tree population on campus. She saw the tree planting as not only a benefit for the campus, but for the environment around it as well.
“It’s not just about investing in a place while you’re here, but about caring for it in the future,” Troyer said.
Not only were sustainability students involved, but students, professors and faculty from all over Messiah. Senior Erin Mackenzie was excited to be a part of a project that was adding new plant life to campus.
“The fact that they’re taking down so many trees, it’s cool that they’re planting more,” she said.
Hoover also mentioned the possibility for students to “adopt” a tree that they will be responsible for periodically checking in on over their years at Messiah.
While the trees may take 20 years or more to reach full size, students and faculty are invested in sustainable efforts now.
“People are showing interest in restoration,” said Office of Sustainability program director Lori Chance. ”This is just the beginning.”