In response to the UL administration’s plans to remove six live oak trees from campus to make way for new construction and renovations to existing buildings — detailed in Wednesday’s Independent Weekly article “Paving Paradise” — a campus environmental group has started an online petition and the Louisiana Garden Club is urging its members to get involved.

The online petition was begun by members of the Society for Peace, Environment, Action, and Knowledge, who are aiming for 1,000 signatures. The group is also hosting a meeting Friday on campus that will include a “tree appreciation walk” led by Jim Foret, an instructor with the university’s renewable resources department and son of the late J.A. Foret, the former Agriculture Department dean who planted many of UL’s now-stately oaks decades ago.

In a comment posted on the online version of “Paving Paradise,” SPEAK member Felicita Wilhelm writes:

These oaks are a part of our culture and our heritage and are a blessing to our campus community as well as the surrounding community. We understand the intent of the administration is to bring a new sense of life to our campus with these buildings, and we are in full support of this goal. Despite this, we hope to encourage a dialogue between the undersigned and our administration in an effort to alter the current plans in favor of saving the lives of these beautiful trees that our community is so lucky to have.

The Louisiana Garden Club Federation is also asking its members to contact UL President Joe Savoie concerning the oaks. In an email obtained by The Ind, LGCF President Donna Bucci urges members to “ask that ALL avenues are explored before deciding on destroying these magnificent trees. These trees are a trademark of the campus and speak volumes of its history — they cannot be replaced!”

[Editor’s note: In the interest of community dialogue, we ask that comments concerning the planned removal of the oaks from the UL campus be posted to the original story.]

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