AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Months after fans learned of the poisoning of two famous oak trees at the entrance to Auburn University's campus on Toomer's Corner, great news for fans. The university says it will allow the traditional rolling of the trees to continue.
AU said that after months of reviewing options and gathering of input from the campus, the community and the team of horticultural, agronomy and soils, and forestry experts who are working to save the trees, the university and the city came to their decision.
The announcement that fans can roll the trees is said to be "at least temporary" during the fall season. Experts have recommended the trees no longer be cleaned with high pressure hoses. They will instead be cleaned by hand.
The head of the Trees Task Force, Gary Keever, Ph.D. says it could be as late as spring 2012 before the trees' survival is ultimately known. Keever continued to called the trees' health "poor" saying, "They continue to defoliate and re-foliate, as expected when the pesticide tebuthiuron is applied. The university is continuing to monitor them, irrigate them, and collect and remove fallen leaves from the site to avoid contamination of other areas."
The university said it considered many alternatives, including an end to the toilet paper tradition or perhaps moving of the tradition to some other location. In the end, "Most of these options created new or additional concerns related to crowd control, traffic, safety issues for our fans and opposing teams' fans, easy access, community property, and the health of other landscaping and park-like areas," Auburn said in a news release.
Fans who venture out to the Corner to roll the oaks are asked not to roll trees beyond them. Samford Park is now a no rolling site as officials try to preserve it.
The trees were poisoned at some point after the 2010 Iron Bowl with a powerful herbicide called Spike 80DF. Suspect Harvey Updyke confessed to the poisoning on a popular radio sports talk show several months later.