The University of Michigan is spending some $400,000 to relocate a big tree less than 100 yards away.
A work crew has begun the long process of uprooting the bur oak tree, which has lived in a courtyard outside the flagship state school’s Ross School of Business, The Ann Arbor News reports.
The massive tree is 65 feet tall and almost five feet in diameter. It’s over 200 years old.
The reason for the move is a fancy, gleaming $135 million addition to the recently-built business school.
School officials say taxpayers aren’t paying for the expensive relocation project because the costs are coming out of a $200 million donation from Stephen Ross, a billionaire real-estate mogul who got his business degree at Michigan in 1962.
Tree-hugging students are taking credit for the $400,000 tree transfer.
“As I see it, the rational for preserving the 300-year-old tree is about history, tradition, pride and respect,” said Michigan alum Jenny Cooper — getting the age wrong by several decades — in an interview with The Ann Arbor News. “The tree is a symbol of strength and resilience and far predates the university as part of the landscape.”
The actual replanting won’t occur until the fall. For now, workers have dug a big ditch around the tree. The next step is to position some steel beams a few feet under its base. After that, workers will rupture the roots, lift the tree from the ground, put it on a flat-bed truck and drive it the short distance to its new spot.
Self-proclaimed tree-moving experts — and there are only a couple nationwide that can handle a job like this one — have calculated that the old oak has somewhere between a 70 and 80 percent chance at surviving the exceedingly minor change of scenery. Thus, it also has a 20 to 30 percent chance of dying.
Stories about colleges and trees come up with some frequency. The last good one occurred in February when a freshman on the campus of Pacific University managed to get herself stuck in a huge redwood tree near the library. (RELATED: Firefighters Dramatically Rescue College Freshman Stuck In Tree)