AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Auburn University is asking football fans not to roll the Auburn Oaks and to practice physical distancing and mask wearing during gameday festivities amid COVID-19.
The two oaks at Samford Park, replanted in 2017 to replace the trees poisoned by Harvey Updyke in 2011. The two replacement oaks, as well as 10 oaks descended from the original trees and planted in 2016, still need time to acclimate to their new environment, according to University Arborist Alex Hedgepath.
Instead of rolling the oaks at Toomer’s Corner, a gameday tradition, AU officials ask that fans partake in the tradition with the two magnolias and a white oak in front of Biggin Hall, instead.
“Although the Auburn Oaks are exhibiting signs of establishment, these oaks are still easily inside of a long transplant recovery phase,” Hedgepath said. “This means that small roots are still growing aggressively to make up for root loss that occurred before and at the time of planting. It is prudent to reduce foot traffic and excess water so that the new roots are not damaged and can establish the trees as soon as possible.”
While both of the new Auburn Oaks are showing signs of reduced stress and better stability, the trees are still being watched closely.
The university’s Landscape Services team monitors the trees over a number of factors, including soil moisture. The 10 descendant trees are also progressing nicely, according to Hedgepath.
“Each tree is different, but most are in good condition and are showing increased resiliency to their new environment. With just five growing seasons in the ground, these live oaks have showed considerable root and shoot growth,” said Hedgepath.
For this year’s gameday celebrations, Auburn officials are encouraging fans to wear masks and social distance due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
“We want everyone to enjoy the football atmosphere but to do so with COVID-19 safety precautions in mind,” said Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic. “This means to wear a mask and stay six feet apart.”
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