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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Toomer's Corner oaks poisoned with herbicide; unlikely to survive

Bizarre story out of Auburn today: an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was deliberately applied in lethal amounts to the soil around the oak trees at Toomer's Corner, according to a university press release today.

There is little chance to save the trees.

Here's an excerpt from the release:
The City of Auburn Police Division is investigating the situation, and the application of this herbicide, known as Spike 80DF, or tebuthiuron, is also governed by state agricultural laws and the Environmental Protection Agency. The university does not use Spike herbicide. There is no reason to suspect any human danger from the herbicide, which manufacturer Dow Chemical says should be applied with proper clothing protection; a typical use of the herbicide is to kill trees along fence lines.

The university learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide. As a precaution, soil samples were taken the next day and sent to the Alabama State Pesticide Residue Laboratory on campus for analysis. Due to a small fire that occurred in the Alabama lab in December, the tests were sent to the lab at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., to expedite results.

The lowest amount detected was 0.78 parts per million, described by horticulture experts as a "very lethal dose." The highest amount detected was 51 parts per million, or 65 times the lowest dose. Experts believe a normal application by itself would have been enough to kill the trees, which are estimated to be more than 130 years old.
"We are assessing the extent of the damage and proceeding as if we have a chance to save the trees," said Gary Keever, an Auburn University professor of horticulture and a member of Auburn's Tree Preservation Committee. "We are also focused on protecting the other trees and shrubs in Samford Park. At this level the impact could be much greater than just the oaks on the corner, as Spike moves through the soil to a wide area." Additional tests are being completed to determine the movement and extent of the area affected, Keever said.
The trees, which are covered in toilet paper following big athletic victories by the Tigers, are estimated to be more than 130 years old.

"We will take every step we can to save the Toomer's oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community," said university president Jay Gogue.

Gouge urged calm among the students.

"It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism," Gogue said. "However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts."

An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information can contact the Auburn Police Division at (334) 501-3110 or anonymously by voice or text on the tip line at (334) 246-1391.


Mole said...

You know, Alabama fans have taken this way too far. Whoever did it should be prosecuted to the max. This is just unbelievable and sad. I hope that Auburn fans show more class and don't retaliate in some dumb fashion.

postermom said...

Maybe I've watched too many crime shows, but there should be phone records that would lead back to whoever did this. And what about the Toomer's Corner cam? We've got some really smart agricultural and forestry people at Auburn. If anyone can save the trees, they can. And if the trees are toast, I'm sure those people will be the best in the country at getting the corner back looking good again ASAP.

jdinmacon said...

Extremely sad. Those trees are as much a part of Auburn as any building, faculty, student or football victory.

As usual, though, Auburn will have the last laugh. The Forestry department has been propogating Toomer's oak acorns for years. Those trees will be planted again, and most likely from the very acorns they once produced.

I feel sorry for the ignorant person who cooked up this scheme, and I hope he's given his just punishment according to the law.

War Toomer's Oak Eagle

BamaBeth said...

As a Bama fan and alum, I am just horrified and sad at the rotten apples that always seem to show themselves... I hope the trees can be saved and Auburn fans know the majority of us Bama fans cannot fathom this kind of stupidity.

postermom said...

Beth, thanks, but I'm pretty sure most bama fans are doubled over laughing and wishing they'd thought of it first.

easyedwin said...

Sixty-five [65] X the lethal dose will indeed kill the trees. The contaminated soil will be required to be removed, causing the entire corner to be excavated and transported to Emmelle, AL.

The sadest part of it is it took 135 years for the main tree to grow to this point.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAAHAHA this is hilarious... Maybe Cam newton and his dad can buy a new tree.... lol

Anonymous said...

Anonymous = terrorist. Anyone who would poison anything is scum and should be arrested and jailed!

marti300 said...

I am a Bama fan, & I agree with Beth's comment. I feel awful for the Auburn fans, students, and alumni. I'm also embarrassed by comment made by "anonymous". Obviously, "anonymous" must be also, or they would have used a name.

Lindsey said...

I can't believe anyone would do this! I am speechless and heartbroken! As someone already said, I hope that NO Auburn fan, students, alum, etc. will rebound on this act! You can cuss me out and degrade me for not being a fan of your team but NO ONE should ever damage the property of the other team! AU will get the trees back one way or another! WAR EAGLE!!!!

Jana said...

Soooo, it is okay for Auburn fans to vandalize the University of Alabama campus on numerous occasions...they spray painted the score to the Iron bowl game on the ground, and vandalized Bear Bryants statue. But if someone DARES vandalize Auburn, it is an outrage. You know, I heard that Auburn even rolled Toomers Corner when Bryant died. That is just an example of the "team spirit" and "good sportsmanship" this team shows. You are all a bunch of ignorant hicks who have, in truth, killed your Toomers Trees yourselves, with your ignorant mistreatment of them. This isnt, in fact, the first time the trees have been in distress. This is just the most recent. You dont like vandals, huh? Funny, considering how many of you are vandals, yourselves. YOU vandalized the UA campus..and truth is, you yourselves vandalize your prized trees frequently.

CWL said...

I'm a UGA grad and want to say how sad this situation is. I can only hope there is a chance the trees can be saved and that classless idiot is caught and spends some serious time in jail

Baapi said...

another day another sports: Tennis is the sports and a Steffi Graf fan stabs Monica Seles, the reigning #1, and destroys her career in Hamburg, Germany.

He got off using insanity.

If stabbing a player and ending her career ends up max as insanity plea I wonder how killing these trees would be MAX PROSECUTED!

Anonymous said...

I am also a big Bama fan and know the hatred that runs through the state but this is much deeper than any rivalry. The coward man who did this will be punished. The rival and hatred should stay between the lines of the field and should not carry on into the backyards of our universities.

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