Century Tree damage not permanent
Tree defacers could see jail time if caught
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 00:02
An inscription etched into an Aggieland tradition drew attention this week when an unknown suspect carved initials into the bark of the Century Tree.
Although the tree has been defaced, Steve Johnson, A&M grounds tree manager, said the damages appear repairable.
“We have already treated the area with sealant,” Johnson said. “That should keep bees from burrowing in and keep other insects out.”
Johnson said he estimates the monetary cost of repairing the damages will not be too steep, but the emotional price paid by Aggies who treasure the Century Tree will be higher.
“The cost of the total tree is nearly a million dollars because of its sentimental value,” Johnson said. “The cost for this fix — just labor, will probably be around $75.”
Lt. Allan Baron of the University Police Department said the damage could cost up to $250, and for the culprit it could even cost time behind bars.
“The Academic Building has been a focal point for many years and next to it sits this beautiful grand oak tree that is a symbol to many students,” Baron said. “The punishment for this is a class D misdemeanor fine up to $2,000 or 180 days in jail.”
David Reed, horticulture professor, said the damage to the tree might not be entirely detrimental.
“If the carving is not through the bark, it is very likely it won’t be damaging to the tree,” Reed said. “In order for the bark wound to be damaging, you have to remove it down to the living tissue, which would be potentially damaging and would take a year or two to heal over.”
If needed, Reed said certain measures could be taken to cover up the damage and to prevent the initials from becoming a permanent fixture.
“You could go to another oak tree, you break off some the knobby parts of the bark and glue them into place over the area, like doing tiles in a bathroom,” Reed said. “Over time it will age and the color will change — we will always see the indentions, however, it would look far less obvious.”
Ryan Johnson, Traditions Council campus relations executive, said Traditions Council remains optimistic about the situation as it serves to preserve and promote Aggie traditions.
“I don’t think they should have done this, but the Century Tree is still the Century Tree and only one small part has changed,” Johnson said. “It’s not a good thing, but the Century Tree is still just as important and just as much of a symbol as it was before.”
Annie Pyryt, freshman English major, said she was not happy with the addition.
“I think it was extremely selfish and disrespectful of whoever did this,” Pyryt said. “The Century Tree is an Aggie tradition for everyone, not just the two who defaced it.”
The case is under investigation, and anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact University police.