West’s landscape changes forever as historic trees removed for future parking lot

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Osborne Earl Smith

Construction crews cut down and mulch one of the trees on Greeley West’s campus last week. The trees are being leveled for a future parking lot.

Callie Pautler, Staff Writer

Construction crews continue their work on the new building and they have left many changes to Greeley West High School. The biggest thing students noticed on their return to school this week was the change in landscape, which directly changed quite a bit of history as well.

One of the main concerns among some staff members and students are the trees that have surrounded West since it was first built. Some of those trees are between 50 and 70 years old. Almost all of the tress that were cut down were along the east side of the campus border 35th Avenue.

The trees before removal, courtesy of Ms. Beth Dent.

One of the teachers at West that has expressed her concern and heartache from all the trees being cut down was Ms. Elizabeth Dent, an Avid and English teacher.  Her classroom is in one of the temporary buildings that was surrounded by the gigantic trees.  She shared how the cutting down of all the trees has really broken her heart. Not only do the trees here have lots of history they are clearly good for the environment as well. Dent shared, “At the beginning of the process, I asked if the trees would be part of the new landscape.  The developer said they would.  Clearly the plan changed…”

Even though the trees were supposed to stick around, the plans have changed and it seems like they were changed suddenly, which didn’t give many people a chance to voice their concern and opinion. 

Principal Mr. Jeff Cranson, also shared how he feels about the trees.  He said that it is unfortunate, but there wasn’t much he could do about it since many decisions and plans for the building and landscape were based on what the developers could do. “Ideally, some of the remains of the trees can be repurposed,” Cranson said, suggesting tables, and a clock that he has in his office made from tree given to him by a teacher. 

Cranson also shared how many staff and students have come to him about the trees, voicing their concerns and what could be done about it. The place where many trees were at will be turned into a parking lot along with where the original building is at now. 

Not all faculty was opposed to the cutting of the trees.  The Environmental Science teacher, Ms. Corrine Yahn, shared how some of the trees are ash trees and they are at risk from the Emerald Ash Borer, a bug, so the best solution in that situation was to just cut them down. The new trees that will be planted will be easier to take care of and are less likely to get pests or diseases. The younger trees will also be able to store more carbon dioxide and be planted closer together.

Sunrise peers through trees that are no longer alive in this picture courtesy of Ms. Beth Dent.

Of course students are sad, h owever, according to the GWHS Landscape Planting Plants Plan, we are getting over 230 trees consisting of both deciduous and evergreen trees, from 20 different species,” Yahn said.

Much thought has gone into this to add more healthy trees on our campus. The cutting down of the trees was difficult, but on a broader perspective this is best for the environment.