Okay, maybe it isn't an update, per se, as there isn't really any information that wasn't known Friday. As expected, the Board of Visitors is reviewing the vaunted report today and will presumably be making a final recommendation soon. The good news is they are more than free to ignore everything Dr. Randolph says or recommends in said report.
The bad news, of course, is that this debate is even happening. It's a sad testament to how deeply football is entrenched, both culturally and financially, with higher education, a relationship that serves neither interest set well, all things considered. I mean seriously...that the Athletics Department is stubbornly resisting an alternate site is simply mind-boggling. I repeat: nobody is saying, "Don't build this facility." All they are saying is, "Don't build it at the expense of Stadium Woods."
It's a touchy issue, with clear battle lines being drawn between the athletic department and ... well, pretty much everyone else.Speaking of value, the estimated economic impact of cutting into these woods is at least $1 million, and that's just for the low end estimate of only using three acres. As if it would ever actually remain limited to that.
...John Seiler, a professor of forestry at Virginia Tech, sent me a lengthy (and passionate) email outlining why he thinks the woods are so valuable.
"Let me clarify what these 'woods' are," he wrote. "In these 'woods:' are over 56 trees over 3 feet in diameter, 5 are over 50 inches in diameter. Many of these trees date back over 300 years. Old growth experts indicate this area is indeed 'unique'...The area could very well be one of the largest single collections of 250 to 300 year old white oak trees anywhere in the eastern U.S."
Cutting or otherwise altering 3 acres for the facility would devalue the woods by more than $1 million, according to the report. But construction is not the only thing that could degrade the woods.It should really be a no-brainer, right? If there's a solution where everybody can have what they want, then you're done, right? Everybody wins and we all go home and have cake, right? No; we are now living in some bizarro land where, apparently, ostensible adults refuse to compromise and suggesting that athletes walk or * gasp! * run a slightly bit further between training facilities is out of bounds. I wish I were joking, but this is quoted directly from the first article:
...No mere inventory of species or site plan assessment, the valuation is based largely on pollution management services provided by the woods and its old growth ecosystem and calculated using a model developed by the U.S. Forest Service, the report stated.
The only down side that is that it's not exactly right next to the current practice fields. Knowing how precious practice time is and the fact that coaches like to shuttle players from field to field, it would not exactly be the most convenient place.Awwww...the poor widdle spors teemz will haftoo walk extwa. Oh the humanity! Inconveniencing athletes...quelle horreur! Like I said, that this is even a contentious issue is simply stunning, and not in the good way. The good news is that we still have a little bit of time to make some noise on this!
If you are a VA Tech alumnus, please let your opinion be known far and wide throughout the University, leveraging whatever relationships you have. Alumni and current students: let it be known, especially to the Athletics Department, that you will not be attending any VT games and will neither be buying any VT merchandise. It's just appalling that they refused to drop this forever ago and are now hiding behind the Board of Visitors skirts, as it were.
Speaking of the Board of Visitors, this is where all y'all non-Hokies can please help save these beautiful trees. And it's all about the article I linked to above about the intrinsic value of this forest:
the valuation is based largely on pollution management services provided by the woodsTo be specific with one example: forestation provides a carbon sink, capturing CO2 from the environment. If one were to ask me, I would say that deforestation and the resultant loss of carbon sinks is the most overlooked point in the climate change debate. It also happens to be the easiest thing we could possibly to do help, i.e. leave trees and forests alone, i.e., do nothing. Nothing is cheaper or easier than nothing!
But I digress, as letters to University Boards of Visitors must be very serious and what not. The point is that those trees are doing every living thing on the planet a favor and it is not the right of anyone to so callously toss aside such a sorely needed world resource.
So please kindly send them a note pointing out how prestigious this, in fact, makes Stadium Woods and, by extension, Virginia Tech. Or they can forever shame VT by shallowly choosing flash and cash over essentially life itself when you get right down to it. Besides, cutting old-growth forest is a sin. But be sure to wish them a happy Monday!