(MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN)
Several hundred trees were cleared for the construction of a 759-bed residence hall and 60,000 square-foot dining facility on Toll Drive. Three out of four “exploitably vulnerable” trees were replanted in the Research & Development Park. (MANJU SHIVACHARAN / THE STATESMAN)

The construction of the new residence hall on Toll Drive resulted in the loss of many trees, but Stony Brook plans to work toward rehabilitation of the environment.

At the Nov. 13 Undergraduate Student Government senate meeting, College of Arts and Sciences Sen. Taylor Bouraad gave an estimate that 5,000 trees were destroyed from construction, but Stony Brook University Media Relations found that although the trees have not been counted, at least several hundred were removed.

Alida Almonte, the manager of University Media Relations, sent an email to The Statesman with information from Barbara Chernow, the senior vice president for administration.

“[A]lmost all construction projects on campus have involved cutting trees,” Almonte wrote in the email.

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Around 5.5 acres of woodlands were cleared for the construction of the new residence hall. The State Environmental Quality Review reported that the Toll Drive residence hall site contained around 3.2 acres of woodlands, and the parking expansion consisted of about 2.2 acres.

The loss of trees was a necessary step, according to the university, in the construction of the 759-bed residence hall and 60,000 square-foot dining facility.

AKRF, an environmental planning and engineering consulting firm, conducted a survey of the construction area. “They identified 4 ‘exploitably vulnerable’ plant species,” Almonte wrote.

One of the four trees, the flowering dogwood, was not re-planted because of its
poor condition.

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There were fewer than 10 dogwoods on the site. “One short one was selected as having the best chance of survival, but when the time came for transplanting even that one did not appear fit enough for transplant,” Almonte wrote.

The remaining three of the four “exploitably vulnerable” trees were replanted in the Research & Development Park, where Campus Operations and Maintenance has a greenhouse to cultivate the plants and landscaping used around campus.

“At the conclusion of the residence hall project new trees will be planted along the sidewalks of the parcel, but they will be not be a recreation of a ‘woodland,’” Almonte wrote.

Since 2006, Stony Brook has been working to increase tree inventory. In that year alone, the university planted 248 trees. From 2006 to May 2014, Stony Brook had successfully planted over 1,223 trees, 675 saplings, 2,286 bushes, 741 perennials and 383 varieties of all four categories, according to a May 2014 press release from the university

Earlier this year, Stony Brook was designated a “Tree Campus USA” University by the Arbor Day Foundation for SBU’s work toward environmental sustainability and forestry management.

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Stony Brook obtained this designation through the completion of five core standards, which include a Campus Tree Advisory Committee, a Campus Tree Care Plan, a Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures, Arbor Day Observance and a Service Learning Project.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “Tree Campus USA” universities have planted 110,785 trees in the past five years.

Stony Brook restores trees lost through construction as well as destruction from other circumstances. After Hurricane Irene hit Long Island, SBU replaced 24 trees lost in the storm.

SBU’s environmental consciousness began in 1967 with the founding of the Environmental Defense Fund. Stony Brook has since become a partner at the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Stony Brook’s commitment to the environment has been rewarded with many accolades including the highest score possible in Princeton Review’s 2015 Green Honor Roll.

The original 450 acres of West Campus were donated to the State of New York by Ward Melville, an active philanthropist particularly around the “Three Village” area. Originally 80 percent of the property was wooded with the exception of a few fields by the railroad line and North P Lot. Many woodland areas have been removed in order to make way for new structures.

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