University says bye bye to 'Bert' the oak tree

It’s time to say bye bye to "Bert," the 100-plus-year-old Heritage Bluff Oak Tree on campus at the University of Florida.

Students, staff, and faculty made their voices heard for months on end. Some started social media campaigns to save "Bert" the Oak. There is even a Twitter account for the tree.  Despite Bert’s supporters, the University has decided the tree is going to be cut down soon.

“Please save this tree,” read one poster. “Save me,” affirmed another. Those and other cries for sparing the tree’s life were affixed to the tree for weeks.

Several Students faculty and staff wanted the heritage bluff oak they named "Bert" to stay put.

The university said the tree, which is estimated at less than 140 years old, is rooted in land slated to become part of the multi-million dollar expansion project on campus. The university held meetings months ago to talk about the project and trees. They even considered four plans, two of which would’ve saved "Bert," and two that didn’t.

In the end, UF decided to go with option two. That requires "Bert" and about 34 other trees be cut down soon.

“We certainly understand the concerns that have been expressed about the tree. We met with the committee. We heard the concerns that some people had about it,” explained Steve Orlando, a spokesman for the University of Florida. “The fact of the matter is that we are a University and our number one job is to educate students. This building is a key part of that mission.”

“I guess, that’s too bad. What made it special was that it was really old,” said Sadie Depeter, a sophomore at the school.

Other students are taking the tree's last days in stride. 

UF will plant six trees in place of each heritage tree cut down and either two or four for the other trees. They will also hire an on-call arborist for future projects where a number of trees could be cut down. 

Read UF letter on decision to remove the tree (PDF)

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