December 12, 2008 12:00AM
This week marks one year since the historic ice storm of December 2007, an overnight system that caused magnitudes of damage to trees and power lines throughout the region.
At Pittsburg State University, the storm's damage to the 275 manicured acres on campus was substantial. Eighteen trees were destroyed in the storm, some partially and others completely. Landscaping crews spent months working to remove their remnants. Now, on the anniversary of the storm, they've finished their work restoring the deciduous life on campus.
With the help of $5,000 donated by the PSU Student Government Association, Landscape Architect Larry Miller was able to purchase about 50 trees to replace the ones lost in the storm. In addition to the Bald Cyprus and London Plane trees he replaced, Miller also ordered the more unique Kentucky Coffee, Ginko, and Linden trees.
"We did plant most of them in the vicinity of where we lost them, near Yates Hall and Axe Library," Miller said. "But with the few we had left, we put them by the Kansas Technology Center and other parts of campus."
Miller, who has a degree in horticulture from Oklahoma State University, held similar positions with the University of Central Oklahoma, the Philbrook Arts Center in Tulsa, and the City of Tulsa Parks Department before coming to PSU 28 years ago. The storm damage - some of the worst he'd seen in his career - was disappointing, yet the donation has given the university a fresh start.
"The community appreciates the atmosphere here," he said. "When you lose even one large tree that's provided a lot of shade and character to campus, it takes awhile for that area to readjust to the loss. There's a void for some time to come."
With the addition of new trees, Miller said, the loss of the campus' trees by the storm will one day be a memory.
"The growing of a tree is an investment in the overall feel of the campus," he said. "I always turn around and wish I'd planted more years ago."