Courtesy photo

Cal Poly students experienced a rare sight Wednesday morning when a 25-ton coral tree was moved from the Environmental Horticulture Science (EHS) unit.

Though it was transferred just down the road from its original position, the endeavor allowed students to learn about successfully relocating such a large tree and all the work the process entails.

Students from a variety of majors, including landscape architecture, construction management and EHS, all witnessed the event and learned more about the project from the Valley Crest Tree Company.

“I don’t think there would be any other time I’d be able to see this prior to entering the professional world,” said EHS junior Danica Maxwell. “It takes so many people and so much teamwork. It was pretty amazing.”

According to Bret Richardson, a Valley Crest employee who was part of the moving team, the process began Monday morning when the tree was root pruned and boxed in preparation for the transfer. On Tuesday, the box was undermined to give it a bottom, and on Wednesday a crew was brought in with an 80-ton crane to complete the process.

Students were included in various stages of the move, but were most involved in soil clean-up and observation. A large portion of the work was considered too dangerous for students and left to the professionals.

Overall, the relocation went smoothly, though the crew did encounter a few bumps in the road.

“We had to bring (the tree) past three sets of wires that were lower than the top of the tree,” Richardson said. “The wires were lifted with poles so that we didn’t damage them, but also so the tree wasn’t hurt in the move.”

Patrick Wiley, an EHS senior, was glad to be a part of the experience.

“We’re kind of just helping out around here,” he said. “We’ve learned how to properly take care of a tree, how big a project like this is and how much time and commitment it takes to be successful.”

According to Wiley’s estimates, about 100 people were present for the move. The crowd included students, professors and professionals who enjoyed a barbecue and a presentation hosted by Valley Crest about the landscape industry.

The coral tree is now located in front of the Poly Plant Shop and the Learning Pine Arboretum at the west end of Via Carta Road.

Maxwell thinks the tree is now in a better location.

“Now it’s going to be healthier, and I think it’s in a more aesthetically pleasing spot,” Maxwell said. “They moved it because it was getting too big for the spot it was in and being crowded out by an oak tree whose branches were interlocking with it.”

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