Editor’s note: The project described below has been halted indefinitely, and future planning in and near the project area is underway with the new Wintergreen Gorge Working Group.
ERIE, Pa. — A forestry management project underway at Penn State Behrend will remove approximately 290 dead or diseased trees from the Behrend campus and Wintergreen Gorge. A select number of higher-value trees within the project area also will be harvested to open the forest canopy and offset the cost of the project.
The work is focused near Behrend’s School of Science complex and the Almy and Ohio residence halls. Members of the Behrend community and visitors to the college should avoid the area until the project is completed.
The boundaries of the project area can be identified by trees that have been marked with multiple blue stripes. Those trees are not targeted for removal.
Forestry crews are removing dead or diseased ash and cherry trees. They also will harvest a limited number of maple, poplar and oak trees, opening the forest canopy to new growth.
“No one likes to see trees come down, especially on a campus as beautiful as Penn State Behrend,” said Randy Geering, senior director of operations at the college. “It is sometimes necessary, however, to remove trees that are at or near the end of their life cycle. Doing so reduces the risk of injury to students and others who use the property. It’s also better for the landscape, because it opens the canopy to allow new growth of healthy, younger trees.”
A forester surveyed the trees in 2020, marking individual trees that pose a risk of injury or damage due to falling limbs.
Two species are of particular concern: ash trees, which are being killed by emerald ash borers, a non-native species of beetle; and cherry trees, which have been infected with brown rot fungus.
Most of the oak trees on the Behrend campus and in Wintergreen Gorge appear to be in good health, according to the forester’s report.
The Behrend campus is home to more than 200 species of trees, including pecan, candlenut and Persian ironwoods. Many were planted by the Behrend family, who traveled extensively and appreciated trees from around the world. The college was designated as an arboretum in 2003 and is a longstanding member of the American Public Gardens Association. To learn more about the trees at Penn State Behrend, or to download the interactive walking tour, visit the Arboretum at Penn State Behrend webpage.
Assistant director, news and information, Penn State Behrend