The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday May 26th

Pit Talk

Trees among us

"A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?" President Reagan famously said. 

While the president may find supporters among the brick wasteland that is NC State, here at UNC, students seem to think trees can mean a lot more.

For us in Chapel Hill, in the heart of our beloved campus lies the Pit, and in that Pit, two trees stand tall.

These two trees are overcup oaks, a tall tree with a long life span. 

Senior Spencer Nelson said the trees are what make our bricked areas superior to our friends in Raleigh. 

“If it was just a boring brick pit, like at State, it would be far insuperior,” he said.

However, using trees to spice up the Pit comes at a cost, most notably the bricks that we have all tripped on at some point.

This will soon change, however, due to renovations to the Pit that will come in 2016, said Thomas Bythell, UNC's forest manager. 

Some of the plans are to aerate the dirt under the brinks, improve traffic flow, and get rid of those seemingly permanent puddles that form in the Pit area.

I was not able to find out why the trees are there, but they do serve a purpose.

Bythell says besides simply being iconic, the trees also help keep the Pit cool.

“Without the trees, imagine how hot on those warmer spring days it would be here,” he said.

With the practical and aesthetic usages in mind, Bythell believes whoever planted them did it on purpose.

“Whoever planted it knew what they were doing,” he said.

Nelson fears that one tree might fall over, ruining the current symmetry.

“If one of these trees died for whatever reason, I don’t know what they would do with the other tree,” he said. “It would seem kind of odd”

For Bythell, this is a huge fear, but he has plans just case one tree comes to a tragic end.

“The truth is, I would probably just replace one. I would evaluate the other one for its health,” he said. “If it was reasonably healthy, we would just replant it and it would be two different trees.”

Kay Baker, first time visitor to UNC from Tennessee, said she is a fan of the trees. 

“I think they are nice and I say in the summer and spring when it is blooming it is very pretty,” she said.

For me, the trees are just cool. I loved when people were asked to share their thoughts on them and they paused for a moment. The trees were something that people had always noticed but never thought about.

The trees are a major part of the Pit. They give shade to all Tar Heels: from the tour groups getting their first view of UNC, to the seniors sitting in the shade drinking an iced coffee from The Daily Grind for the last time. Everyone who goes through the Pit somehow benefits from their presence, yet they often go unnoticed.

I've provided my thoughts on the trees, but now my suitemate, Andrew, who was a self-proclaimed tree for Halloween, used his insight as topiary to enlighten us all on how the Pit trees feel about us.

“When you are a tree, you get to see everything. It is a great place to people watch,” he said.

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