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Campus tree cover undergoing changes

November 15, 2016

Trees have been replanted in front of the Long hospital building.

Some of the trees from the south side of Michigan Street have been replanted on the north side of the street, in front of Robert W. Long Hall, as part of the ongoing conversion to two-way traffic.

Last week, Indianapolis city workers began removing up to 77 trees along Michigan Street that must be cleared to provide space for the conversion of the street to two-way traffic, a project expected to be concluded by fall 2017.

But the removal of those trees is offset by 53 trees that have already been relocated, plus more trees that will be planted at various sites around campus, according to Emily Wren, the associate vice chancellor for facilities. In all, recent efforts have produced 270 new trees on campus, while just under 150 trees have been removed.

"As we mentioned in an earlier story about the Michigan Street project, it will have more impact than the New York Street conversion, particularly in terms of our trees," Wren said. "But Steve Stringer and his ground services team have saved some of our younger and healthier trees and moved them to other parts of the campus. Plans are in development to do tree plantings along the Michigan Street corridor once the project is completed. In addition, the new medians on Michigan Street will be landscaped rather than planted with grass, thanks to the support of the campus administration."

First step of the street project

Stringer said the tree-relocation effort was a first step to give the campus a head start before work on the two-way traffic conversion hit its stride.

"We always want to save any trees we can, if they are healthy enough to move and we can find suitable sites for them," he said. Some of the trees are now along Barnhill Drive between Michigan and New York streets, or in Barnhill medians. Others have been replanted on the west side of Blackford Street just south of Michigan Street.

Trees are being removed and many relocated as part of the project.

While Long Hall is the new home for many of the trees, others have been relocated near Barnhill Drive and Blackford Street on other parts of the campus, in order to preserve as much of IUPUI's existing tree population as possible.

Wren said campus and university administrators have been diligent in following a long-term strategy that maximizes tree preservation, adding trees whenever feasible.

The transformation of the campus landscape, conversion of one-way thoroughfares to two-way, and many other projects and programs are also integral to the ongoing IUPUI Welcoming Campus Initiative. Launched by Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar in spring 2016, this initiative aims to make IUPUI a destination campus that inspires faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community.

Companies working with IU and IUPUI on projects have done their part, too, especially on the landscaping project.

"We work with great partners in the design and construction industry to preserve the best of the existing landscape character while building for the future of the campus," said Mark Ramsey, IU's director of landscape architecture. "There have been dramatic improvements made to the campus in recent years, and this project is another significant step forward."

Plans help IUPUI's Tree Campus USA designation

According to Jessica Davis, director of the Office of Sustainability, that type of planning has helped IUPUI earn Tree Campus USA designation every year since 2012.

"While it’s unfortunate we’re losing some older trees, the Michigan Street conversion will allow for better connectivity with our surrounding communities, slower traffic for safer pedestrian crossing, and better integration of alternative transportation on campus including bike and bus," Davis said. 

"In the short term, the Michigan Street thoroughfare will look a bit bare due to the removal of trees," she added. "However, in the long term, Michigan Street will see a net gain of trees after construction is complete, including some unique landscaping options to make our main road through campus more attractive and welcoming."

The campus is focused on increasing IUPUI's tree stock for several reasons:

  • Beautification -- IUPUI is working hard to improve the campus's appearance for visitors and neighbors, and to increase its appeal to potential recruits and their parents.
  • Campus livability -- Trees help make the campus more livable and enjoyable for students who attend classes, employees and faculty who work at IUPUI, and the increasing number of students who live on campus.
  • Environmental impact -- Trees help improve the air quality around campus, and managing the campus tree population helps students, staff and faculty develop good habits to support sustainability.
  • IUPUI supports Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, a communitywide effort to improve the quality of life in the city and surrounding area.
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