100 Trees Chopped Down For Parking Lot Development At Fresno State

"I cannot believe they couldn't have done this in a better way," Fresno State English Professor Craig Bernthal said.

Bernthal has walked through the Peter Building parking lot on his way to class for decades.

"This is like coming home after a day at work and finding someone in your backyard with a chainsaw, cutting down all your trees," he said.

But university officials say the bloodbath of branches was necessary.

"We use other areas for overflow parking. So we want to have available parking for students on campus. The project is going to add 600 new spaces," Amy Armstrong, Fresno State Parking Administrator, said.

"The University is set to have about 1,200 fewer students next year," Bernthal said. "How many parking spots do they need in the immediate future?"

Furious faculty members say they were blindsided.

"We got an email, which did not go out to all the faculty, it went up on a thing called 'bulletin board', which not everybody gets at 10:16 in the morning, after they had started cutting," Bernthal said.

"There were communications with groups ahead of time, prior to construction. The plan is on a very tight deadline. It's very quick for us to get this done on the summer break while students are gone," Armstrong said.

Fresno State officially became an "arboretum", or place where trees are grown for exhibition and study, in the spring of 1979.

Nudged in a tree by the parking lot is a plaque recognizing that.

Just below it is a red spray-painted "x" that likely means the tree and the plaque will be chopped down.

"In Fresno, where we have one of the worst air pollution in the country, we cannot afford losing trees in this kind of quantity. And the university should be the leader on preserving trees, improving landscaping in a climate like ours. I don't know where the thinking is on that," Fresno State English Professor Magda Gilewicz said.

School officials tell KMPH News they plan on planting about 130 Chinese Pistache trees in the parking lot once the project is complete.

They hope to have it finished before school starts in the fall.

Faculty members say, even though the school will plant more trees, it will take decades for those trees to reach the size of those the school already chopped down.