It’s not over yet.
Proponents of saving Stadium Wood’s have a new battle on their hands. This time, it deals with parking.
For several years, Virginia Tech football players have been parking in Stadium Woods, on top of the roots of the old-growth trees.
Despite the high publicity of Stadium Woods, the athletics department and Parking Services are still allowing football players to park in the woods.
“This year we asked about this location in particular, in light of stadium woods being as high profile this year,” said Tom Gabbard, the associate director of athletics. “We were granted permission to park there from Parking Services,” he said.
Stadium Woods, the 14 acre grove of white oak trees on campus, has been under intense scrutiny since last year when the athletics department was eyeing the woods as a possible location for a new football training facility. The university denied the proposal after they received thousands of emails, phone calls and petition signatures in favor of saving the woods.
Rebekah Paulson, director of Friends of Stadium Woods, wants the athletic department to take into consideration the damage that’s occurring when cars are parked over the roots.
“I think they are mad, and don’t want to back off any further then they’ve already been told to do,” she said.
By definition, old-growth trees are trees that haven’t been touched by European settlers. They can live to be 700-800 years old and are characterized by the unique habitat they create.
Tech is the only university in North America that has an old-growth forest on its central campus.
Paulson is upset by the lack of care for the trees.
“Athletics, the administration, and facilities department doesn’t care whether the trees are hurt or not,” Paulson said.
Friends of Stadium Woods distributed flyers at the last home game, and spent time personally talking to the football players who park there. The football players expressed that they were only parking there on orders from the athletic department.
“We needed a place for the team to park that’s convenient,” Gabbard said.
He says they have no plans for moving the players' cars at this time.
The location, which is only used for football player’s parking, is occupied by the team the night before a home game, and through all the activities that takes place the day of the game.