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Saving a Forest, 3,000 Trees at a Time
The University of Virginia Foundation Begins Innovative Landscape Relocation Project at North Fork Research Park

January 26, 1999 -- Times are changing. Not long ago it was common practice on a building site to cut down the trees and burn them to clear the area for construction. The University of Virginia Foundation is saving 3,000 trees at its University of Virginia Research Park at North Fork. The trees, about 2,500 cedars and 500 hardwoods ranging up to 50-60 feet tall, will be moved from designated building sites to line Lewis and Clarke Drive, the main road into the park.

"Sustainable issues are an important aspect of all design solutions at North Fork," says Tim Rose, chief executive officer of the University of Virginia Foundation. A few other examples of sustainable practices at North Fork include: minimizing mowed grass areas, using parking orchards which will be planted with five times the normal number of trees, and planting indigenous species of plant materials to reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, almost 40 percent of the 532-acre park will remain undeveloped and be allowed to revert from its farming past to a wilderness preserve.

"This is a very environmentally sensitive design solution," says Jim Brown, landscape architect with the Northern Virginia firm of Dewberry and Davis, who designed a streetscape along Lewis and Clarke Drive.

The concept is to replicate the existing forest pattern says Brown. Using a variety of tree sizes representing the natural forest mix found on the site, the trees will be replanted in combination with natural earth berms in the median and along the roadside. Small trees will be planted next to large and oaks next to maples.

This is one of the biggest relocation projects in the country. "If not the biggest, it is one of the biggest in terms of magnitude," Brown says.

The relocation concept is gaining nationwide support and has been written into a number of county ordinances in Northern Virginia. A key advantage is that relocation saves about 50 percent of the cost of using nursery stock.

Davey Tree Expert Company of Kent, Ohio was selected by the U.Va. Foundation to move the trees. They are the oldest and largest residential and commercial tree-care company in the world and have been moving trees since the 1890s, says Robert Craft, assistant district manager in the company's Chantilly, VA, office. They have provided transplanting services to the National Arboretum, the National Park Service, Arlington National Cemetery, the Federal Reserve, and the General Services Administration.

The project will require 18-20 workers and last about a month. Smaller cedar trees will be moved first, followed by the larger trees as the project progresses. Some smaller equipment has been moved on site. Weather permitting, large tree-spade trucks and equipment will be brought in the week of Jan. 25.

Weather plays an important role in transplanting. In terms of season, this is a good time to plant Craft says. "The trees are dormant and we have a 95 percent success rate. On the other hand, if the soil is too wet, the big heavy equipment cannot move around in the mud."

An extensive study and identification of the native species of plants and trees was undertaken by Charlottesville-based landscape architect Gregg Bleam. Species of native plants and trees on the site and six different kinds of natural habitats were identified. Bleam teamed with Virginia-based Mitchell/Matthews Architects and the Maryland office of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company on the design of the master plan of North Fork.

Bleam's design for the park's main entry includes a 300-foot-long stone retaining wall framed in back by tulip popular trees -- Jefferson's favorites -- planted in a native grid pattern called a bosque. Work on this phase will begin in the spring.

Contact: Tim Rose, (804) 924-4848.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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