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Employee proposes fund for replacing storm-damaged trees

The dramatic damage to trees on campus from the April 1 snow storm has prompted an employee to propose an MIT Arbor Day Fund to allow tree lovers help defray the cost of replacing trees and shrubs. To date, the fund has received $500.

MIT lost some of its most prized trees during the blizzard, which dropped more than two feet of heavy snow, snapping branches of even the most sturdy hardwoods.

Over 120 rhododendrons in Killian Court were irretrievably damaged, and the beloved crab apples which frame the dome of the Great Court were downed by the weight of the snow. About a dozen other trees (zelkovas, dogwoods and maples) will need to be replaced throughout the campus, according to Talitha Fabricius, landscape architect in Physical Plant and the Planning Office.

"It has been through great efforts by the Grounds Department that the campus is almost back to normal. It took 10 days of intensive work to prune the campus trees and pick up the debris," Ms. Fabricius said. The storm cleanup and replacement has cost the Institute more than $75,000.

Workers began planting new trees--and moving a full-grown crabapple halfway across campus to Killian Court--during the celebration of Arbor Day, which in Massachusetts was observed from April 28-May 5. Ms. Fabricius has been selecting trees from New England nurseries; they will be planted by mid-May in Killian Court, along Memorial Drive, Massachusetts Avenue and other locations.

The idea for a fund was hatched when when Mary Haas, administrative assistant to the provost, wrote to Victoria Sirianni, director of Physical Plant: "I just came back from a walk around campus and saw all the damage done by the storm. It is so sad, especially as I look out my window and see so many rhododendron split and the two crab apple trees in the court split.

"I have always thought the grounds at MIT are so beautiful and the grounds people have such pride in caring for the grounds and the beautiful flowers all spring, summer and fall. Is there any way the employees could contribute to a special fund to replace the trees and shrubs?"

This led to the establishment of the MIT Arbor Day Fund. Individuals or groups can contribute and help replant the campus by sending their donation to MIT, c/o Bonny Kellermann in the Treasurer's Office at 238 Main St.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 7, 1997.

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