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Media Memo: Trees at UW-Eau Claire to come down Dec. 21-22

TO: News Editors and Directors

FROM: Judy Berthiaume, Director

DATE: Dec. 18, 2009

SUBJECT: Trees at UW-Eau Claire to come down Dec. 21-22

Nearly 50 trees on UW-Eau Claire's lower campus will be removed Dec. 21-22 to make way for a new student union that will be built between Davies Center and the Phillips parking lot.

The Council Oak tree will not be removed. The building site has been shifted to the east so the tree and a 50-foot radius around it will be preserved.

The project will require the removal of crabapple trees that were planted as a memorial to the four people killed during a protest at Kent State in 1970. The trees will not be removed next week, however. Instead, Jason Lanka, assistant professor of art, will remove them in mid-January so he can use the harvested wood to create a piece of art that will commemorate the events at Kent State.

"I would like the work to commemorate the loss at Kent State, but also emphasize the importance of the students' sacrifice," Lanka said in describing his project. "Those students were fighting for what they believed in, and my generation owes them a great deal. Their willingness to stand up for what they believed in and protest against what they perceived to be wrong affects us every day. The young generation of the Vietnam years redefined our right to free speech and our ability to question and challenge our government. We owe them a great debt of gratitude."

Lanka currently is working on drawings for the piece and would like to start construction in fall 2010 after the wood has completely dried. He intends to apply for a grant that would allow him to collaborate on the project with an advanced sculpture student from UW-Eau Claire.

Tree species that were found only in the area of campus that will house the student center already have been planted elsewhere on campus.

In selecting the new building site, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich considered factors such as flood plain and sustainability issues, traffic flow, parking, proximity to student populations, proximity to McIntyre Library and student activities.

Construction of the 156,000-square-foot, three-story student center is scheduled to begin in late spring 2010, with occupancy of the building expected in late fall 2012.

The $48.8 million building project will be funded through segregated fees, which are paid by students. No tax dollars will be involved in the development or operation of the new building.

For details, contact Beth Hellwig, chair of the Davies Center Redevelopment Steering Committee, at 715-836-5992.

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