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Downtown Tree Removal FAQs

Q. Why did WVU have an assessment performed on the seven historic trees near University Ave. on our Downtown campus?
A. WVU is committed to providing a safe learning, working and living environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. To promote campus safety, the University recently engaged a third-party expert to assess the health and potential safety risks of seven historic trees near University Ave. since these trees are old and situated in high-traffic areas of campus.

Q. Who was the third-party expert who conducted the tree assessment?
A. WVU engaged SavATree — one of the country’s leading experts on tree care and conservation — to conduct the tree assessment.

Q. What was SavATree’s methodology for the assessment
A. SavATree’s evaluation of the seven historic trees followed the national tree care industry consensus for tree risk assessments.

Q. What were results of the tree assessment?
A. The study determined that five of the seven trees that were evaluated should be removed due to significant amounts of decay and potential safety risks to pedestrians, vehicles and historic buildings. These five trees include:

The study also recommended two of the trees (the sugar maple on the eastern side of Chitwood Hall and the red oak between Elizabeth Moore Hall and Purinton House) should be removed as soon as possible.

Q. The sycamore is iconic. Are we sure it has to come down?
A. WVU ordered additional testing on this tree in spring 2020 from SavATree and it did not change its initial high risk rating.

Q. Who was part of the decision-making process to remove the trees identified as potential safety risks?
A. Following the tree assessment, a variety of key stakeholders and subject matter experts — including the Tree Campus USA committee and University administrators — were engaged to review the results and determine a path forward. These groups included students, faculty and staff representing a cross-section of the University.


Q. When will the first two trees (i.e., the sugar maple near Chitwood Hall and the red oak between Elizabeth Moore Hall and Purinton House) be removed?
A. To WVU removed the sugar maple and red oak in March 2020. These two trees were assessed the highest possible risk level in the assessment. Replacement trees have been planted near their former locations.

Q. Who is removing the trees?
A. WVU Roads and Grounds crews, directed by WVU's International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)-certified arborist will remove all but the E. Moore sycamore. Because of its size and proximity to buildings and roadways, WVU has contracted Davey Tree Experts to complete the work.

Q. How many trees does WVU currently have on its Morgantown campus?
A. According to our current tree inventory, the University has more than 2,300 trees in landscaped areas on our Morgantown campus. Further, while WVU removed 41 trees last year, we also planted 51 new trees throughout 2019.

Note: The tree inventory does not include the Core Arboretum and Falling Run Greenspace.

Q. What will happen with the residual timber from these trees?
A. To honor these historic trees and other trees that have been removed across campus, the Facilities Management Roads and Grounds team is working with the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design to develop an urban wood program that will make products from the trees’ residual timber.

In addition, the WVU Herbarium housed in the Biology department has taken specimens from the five historic trees to add to its collection of plant, bryophyte, and lichen specimens.

Q. How can I get involved with WVU’s tree planting initiatives?
A. Visit the Office of Sustainability website for information on how to get involved with Tree Campus USA and other sustainability programs. Opportunities also are posted on the iServe platform when they are available (usually in the spring and fall, when tree planting and maintenance most often take place).

Q. Who should I contact with questions or for more information?
A. Contact the Sustainability team at or 304-293-7916 with any questions or for more information.

Contact Us

Office of Sustainability
P.O. Box 6555
Morgantown, WV 26506-6555
Phone: 304.293.7916

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