Athens Takes Root Across the State

by Jayne Yerrick

College Green at Ohio University, Photo by Jayne Yerrick

Being a party school and having a beautiful campus are two things that OU is perhaps best known for. The latter is perhaps an aspect of OU that Bobcats are most proud of, and with good reason. The greenery paired with the red bricks makes OU unlike many other college campuses. This picturesque scenery is put on full display on College Green, which has historic paths lined with lush, tall trees. These trees are certainly aesthetically pleasing, but they also serve a more meaningful purpose.

Many people may be unaware that the acorns that fall from the trees on College Green are collected. An Athens Effect reporter witnessed this process last week, as a flatbed pickup with a West Virginia license plate was parked right outside of Schoonover Center, and was filled to the brim with acorns from College Green. 

 A pile of acorns in the back of a flatbed pickup isn’t something that you see every day, so the Athens Effect decided to investigate. 

It turns out that the removal of the acorns from College Green is a small step in a much bigger operation. 

The acorns are collected by the West Virginia Division of Forestry, and they are then brought to Clements State Tree Nursery, which is West Virginia’s only forest tree nursery. The goal of this nursery is to grow and sell the trees from the nursery. 

After the seeds are planted at the nursery, they grow into seedlings. This process takes about a year, and then the seedlings are ready to be sold. 

The Clements State Tree Nursery has operated for nearly 50 years, and each year the nursery grows approximately 1 million to 2 million seedlings.

This is a booming business for the state of West Virginia, as the sale of these seedlings rakes in an average profit of about 1 million dollars each year.

People are interested in purchasing these seedlings for numerous reasons, many of which help improve the environment. For instance, planting these trees help with coal mine land reclamation, farming, reforestation and wildlife cover.

Aside from environmental purposes, some seedlings are sold to Christmas tree farms. Trees from this nursery are so popular that, chances are, if you purchase a West Virginia-grown tree for Christmas, it likely started as a seedling from the Clements State Tree Nursery. 

The nursery mainly sells the seedlings to businesses in West Virginia, but the trees are sold to surrounding states as well. An employee of the West Virginia Division of Forestry also said that a great deal of the seedlings is sold to various locations in Ohio.

Many of these trees started as seeds sitting on College Green, and through the efforts of the West Virginia Division of Forestry, traces of Athens are improving the environment or adding festivity to the holiday season across Ohio and surrounding states.

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