Tree Care

Communicating Concerns

If you wish to report tree damage, or express concern about removal of a tree, or suggest an addition to the Arboretum, please contact sustanability@vassar.edu

Our policy

Tree care and maintenance are the purview of our Grounds Manager and the grounds staff, following a Tree Care Plan approved by the Arboretum Committee.  The Tree Care Plan identifies policies, procedures, and practices that are used in establishing, protecting, maintaining, and removing trees on the Vassar campus.

When a tree must come down:

Since it is capable of more or less continuously producing new branches, leaves, and roots, a tree should be able to live forever.  Trees such as the bristlecone pine, giant sequoia, and coast redwood are among the oldest living things.  Most of our campus trees do indeed have very long lives, so we naturally tend to regard them as permanent.  We find that perceived permanence comforting, and when a tree comes down we experience a disconcerting sense of sadness and loss.

Because our campus trees have such high ecological, emotional, and aesthetic importance, it is the policy of the Arboretum Committee that a tree can be removed only if it has become a clear safety hazard, or if it is too diseased or damaged to survive.  Even then, the decision is not taken lightly.  Removing a tree requires consensus among the four members of the Tree Care Committee listed below.  If safety and aesthetic considerations allow, a portion of the tree is retained as a snag, which provides wildlife habitat and allows the natural process of decay to occur.  The removal guidelines also call for the replacement of each tree that is removed.

Tree Care Committee 2022-23

  • Jen Rubbo: Director of the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns, Faculty Co-chair of ArbCom, Member of tree decider group
  • Yvonne Elet: Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, Faculty Co-chair of ArbCom, Member of tree decider group
  • Margaret Ronsheim: Chair and Professor of Biology, Member of tree decider group
  • Keri VanCamp: Director of the Preserve at Vassar, Member of tree decider group
  • Dean Jaeger: Grounds Manager, Member of tree decider group