Thursday, February 9, 2023

Trees: tailgaters dont tread on me

August 30, 2001

The grass in Spartan Stadium will be growing green next fall, but after football season, the soil all over the rest of campus could be as hard as concrete.

To prevent the demise of campus greenery, MSU officials are prohibiting parking on any grass surface north of the Red Cedar River, leaving parking areas on south campus designated for gamegoers.

“Over six football games a year, and especially when it’s wet, it would continue to cause the trees to go into a decline,” said Paul Swartz, the campus arborist in charge of tree maintenance. “We’re just trying to get the awareness and education to the public as to the impact of driving on the turf, especially under the trees.”

After cars rest on green areas, the soil becomes tightly packed around tree roots, preventing the trees from getting the air and water they need.

About 100 trees are removed from campus every year because of the effects of soil compaction problems.

Frank Telewski, curator of the W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens, said the trees might not die because of the soil compaction but are more susceptible to serious illness because of it.

He compared students who grow ill from stress with the trees.

“By stressing the trees, they too can become susceptible to illness. They’re alive, too,” he said.

Telewski said other universities, such as the University of Nebraska, have banned sports fans and tailgaters from parking on anything but paved surfaces.

“Different campuses deal with different things in different ways,” he said. “This is a problem that’s pretty well documented.

“I think some people are going to be very sensitive to the problem. When they understand what the problem is, they’ll be more helpful about it.”

MSU police Lt. John McCandless said a new shuttle lot along Service Road will compliment the already-used lot along Mout Hope Road, giving misplaced fans a place to park.

People who park on grassy areas will receive a warning flier to explain the problem - similar to the “Oops” tickets handed out during Welcome Week.

“This will probably be a well-kept secret for the first few games,” McCandless said. “We invite 72,000 to campus for football festivities six Saturdays in the fall.

“You can’t invite guests and then tell them they have no place to park.”

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