Physical Plant seeks to protect trees, requests no hammocks, slacklines or climbing
In an effort to protect the diversity of trees on the University Park campus, the Penn State Office of Physical Plant is asking students, faculty, staff and visitors to refrain from climbing trees or attaching slacklines or hammocks. OPP recently posted signs in various campus locations urging individuals to discontinue these activities.
The request comes at the same time as the arrival of much-anticipated warm spring weather. People want to spend time outside, and this includes lounging in hammocks, slacklining and climbing trees. However, these activities can have damaging results for trees, said Brian Phiel of Penn State OPP.
The biggest challenge comes from where hammocks and slacklines are attached to the tree trunks. They can damage tree bark and the inner cambium layers of the tree leading to long-term health consequences for the tree, such as cutting off nutrient and water transport and creating points of infection for pathogens and insect pests, according to Phiel, supervisor for grounds maintenance, ornamental horticulture/arboriculture at Penn State. The activities can also snap limbs or even the trunk of the tree. In addition, the understory planted around many of the trees found near Old Main and the HUB, also is being damaged due to the increased foot traffic.
“We recognize that people who enjoy hammocking, using slacklines, or climbing trees are often outdoor enthusiasts who would never intentionally harm a living tree,” said Phiel. “The life story of a tree is much longer than the four years a student may be here. Our request comes as part of an effort to protect the trees on our beautiful campus and to keep everyone safe today and for many years to come.”
There are more than 17,000 trees in the University Park campus canopy that serves as a living laboratory for several world-class educational programs. The University also has an all-encompassing tree care plan identifying the policies, procedures and practices for establishing, protecting and maintaining trees on campus. The campus has been honored with the Tree Campus USA designation for several years running and has received global recognition as a Level II Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accredidation Program and The Morton Arboretum.