What's the value of an old-growth forest fragment that may be unique on the East Coast? In a report commissioned by Virginia Tech officials, Maryland-based consulting firm Biohabitats Inc. has put the ecological value of the woods at just more than $5 million. [...]If this was some sort of multipurpose athletic facility that benefited the entire student body as the woods do, that would be one thing. But as a famous Virginian once said ... we talkin' 'bout practice. Not a game ... practice.
Now university President Charles Steger and the board of visitors — which will meet in Blacksburg on Sunday and Monday — must weigh that calculation against the value of an indoor football practice facility proposed for up to 5 acres of the woods. The report puts the total footprint of the woods at 13.75 acres. [...]
The report estimates that the woods contain up to 59 white oaks that may be 300 years old or older. These findings are in line with estimates of the number and age of old-growth white oaks found in the woods by retired extension specialist Jeff Kirwan, whose work touched off the debate about the future of the woods in November.
Does the football team really need a $20 million indoor practice facility? Can the school afford it at a time when the athletic department is already gouging students for $7.2 million in fees every year and Virginia Tech just raised in-state tuition & fees by 4%?
Over 9,000 people have already signed an online petition to preserve the woods. Learn more at SaveStadiumWoods.com.