Save Stadium Woods: Virginia Tech Group Fights To Stop Destruction Of Centuries-Old Trees

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By Connor Adams Sheets | May 8, 2012 6:27 AM EST

Save Stadium Woods is fighting to stop the destruction of a grove of centuries-old trees on Virginia Tech's campus in order to clear the way for an indoor football practice facility. 

The school's athletics department has identified "Stadium Woods," a slice of land adjacent to the Hokies football team's Lane Stadium, as the preferred site for the practice field, despite vociferous opposition from the Save Stadium Woods group.

Members of the group do not oppose the construction of such a field, but they believe that Stadium Woods is the worst possible location for it, as a number of 300-year-old white oaks would have to be destroyed in order to make room for the building.

But the Hokies athletics department has not heeded the group's calls, and continues to consider the plan despite the heated opposition.

And that has just galvanized the efforts of Save Stadium Woods, and the more than 8,000 people who have signed the group's petition asking the Blacksburg college to build the facility on a nearby site just a short walk from the stadium.

John Seiler, a VT alumni distinguished professor of forest biology, helped make their case during a discussion with the International Business Times.

"These woods are an extremely rare thing in the U.S., and with the fact that they're in an urban environment they are probably the biggest collection of white oaks anywhere urban, and maybe even in any woodlands," Seiler said. "They're priceless. There's no grounds, from any angle, for doing this ... And there is another suitable site, it is maybe slightly less perfect than immediately adjacent to the practice fields, they would have to walk one minute to the other site, but this other site is even $4 million to $5 million cheaper to build it on."

So the group has taken its case nationally, getting press coverage in the Washington Post and other top media outlets, gathering petition signatures on its website, and imploring people to take their concerns about the plan straight to the university and its athletic department. An event was even held at Stadium Woods in which the group named one of the centuries-old trees there after actor Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report" in a push to get the show to help the group raise awareness about the importance of saving Stadium Woods.

But it appears that their efforts have yet to have a major impact, as Jim Weaver, the institution's director of athletics, told the Washington Post that he is mainly interested in the Stadium Woods location.

"The only area is the Stadium Woods," Weaver told the Post. "We haven't gotten into alternative sites because there are very few locations that would work as they would work here." 

You can learn more about the Save Stadium Woods project, and get involved yourself, by visiting the coalition's website at this link.

And click play below to watch the moving video Save Stadium Woods released in order to help get out the word about its cause:

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