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Richland College Facilities Services Department Gives Campus Trees a New ‘Leaf’ on Life by Getting to the Root of the Problem
A large, fallen tree limb is surveyed by workers.

Richland College facilities employees work to secure a damaged tree and safely remove the downed branches.

After an unprecedented stormy, soggy spring in the Dallas area, the Richland College campus was left relatively unscathed, with the exception of several trees that lost limbs in the recent storms. Luckily for the trees, the college’s Facilities Services department was ready to go out on a limb and make sure no stump went unturned in the quest to save the storm’s woody victims.

This year’s storms resulted in several damaged trees, but thankfully only one will have to be taken down.

Once a storm passes, the Facilities Services department assesses the situation and notifies necessary individuals, such as the College Police and senior administration. From there, priority is placed on each damage area, with top priority given to more dangerous situations such as hanging or fallen branches blocking a sidewalk or roadway or leaning against a building. A crew and equipment are deployed not only to remove the debris, but to also try to repair the tree. If the damage isn’t bad, the wounds are painted, cable-bolts are used if necessary and any splits are closed. Exposed wood is treated to protect against disease and insect infestation. Branches are cut up and repurposed as compost to mulch landscaped beds on campus.

With more than 1,000 trees on the Richland College campus, many older than 100 years, the trees do more than provide a tranquil backdrop for the educational environment of students. They provide energy conservation by producing shade, reducing the college’s carbon footprint and serving as a habitat for the myriad of creatures that live on campus. In addition, many trees on campus serve as tributes to Richland College employees, past and present, who have provided 20 years of service to the college.

When a Richland College employee attains 20 years of service, he or she picks an available tree on campus, and at the base of the tree a plaque is placed to honor that person. While no trees with plaques were heavily damaged this year, if it ever happens then either the person who that tree commemorates or his or her relatives are allowed to pick a new tree on campus.

“We would all like to be remembered,” said Dennis Griffin, Richland College’s grounds coordinator. “Being able to see that memory in the form of a living thing can be pretty powerful for the acquaintances, friends and especially the relatives who come on a regular basis to check the health of the tree and the status of the plaque.”