Toomer’s Oaks ‘aesthetically dead if not actually dead’ according to AU update; rolling could be temporarily stopped this season

This photo shows decay in the branches pruned from the Toomer’s Oaks last week.

The latest update on the Toomer’s Oaks doesn’t make for fun reading.

According to an AU release issued late Friday afternoon, the recent pruning of the oaks’ branches will leave the trees “aesthetically dead if not actually dead” and talk of replacing the trees has now moved beyond the hypothetical, though the process “wouldn’t begin for another 6-18 months depending upon the size of the new trees.”

According to the release, a new committee—the AU Tree Preservation Committee (TPC)—will soon make a recommendation to AU president Dr. Jay Gogue whether remediation efforts should continue or whether the university should move forward in replacing the oaks.

The TPC’s  current charge is to:

  1. Determine and make a recommendation as to what species of oak should be used to replace the current Toomers’ oaks. The replacement tree or trees will most likely be overcup oaks.
  2. Determine the size of the tree that should be transplanted to Toomer’s Corner.   If the decision is made to use nursery-grown trees that have been root-pruned during production, replacement trees could be dug before they begin to form new leaves in spring 2013, typically around mid- to late March, and planted after all contaminated soil beneath the plaza and extending into Samford Park  is removed. If the decision is to replace the trees with one or more larger overcup oaks from the landscape, trees will be root-pruned eight to 12 months before they are dug.
  3. 3.     Once 1 and 2 are complete, identify or develop a process by which candidate trees to be transplanted can be identified. 
  4. 4.     Depending on the candidate trees, develop a plan for preparing the tree(s) for transplanting by root pruning or other appropriate methods.
  5. 5.     Monitor the health of the existing Toomers Oaks, and once dead, give some advice on how long the tree will remain structurally sound, so they can remain in place and continue to be rolled.

The university announced in January that the Toomer’s Oaks could be rolled come fall but now says that rollings “may be temporarily stopped” if the remaining—and deteriorating—branches are deemed hazardous to fans.

Here are other photos of the branches recently removed from the oaks.

“The long-term outlook for the trees is not good.”

AU officials say they are moving forward with plans to turn the wood from the Toomer’s Oaks into souvenirs but that “the trees will not come down until they’re dead.”

Related: On the feasibility of a Toomer’s Corner transplant

More on the the Toomer’s Oaks: Wire system being considered as temporary solution for rolling Toomer’s / Toomer’s Corner rollings didn’t start with Punt, Bama, Punt, says History / Did Auburn students celebrate Bear Bryant’s death by rolling Toomer’s Corner

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