- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Plans for a $135 million addition to the University of Michigan’s business school include moving a 65-foot-tall tree that’s thought to be more than 200 years old.

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business project includes moving the oak from its place in a courtyard at the north side of the Ross complex, facing the School of Education, to a lawn area off Tappan Street, The Ann Arbor News reported (http://bit.ly/1ib3BGO )

School spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the cost of between $300,000 and $400,000 to move the tree is factored into the overall project, which is funded by donors. The tree, which has a trunk that’s 55 inches in diameter, must be moved to build a connection between the planned building, the existing Ross building and the library building, he said.

“The Ross complex has a pretty tight area in which to build,” Fitzgerald said.

Jenny Cooper, a graduate student at the business school and the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources, was among nearly 300 students, faculty and staff who signed a petition aimed at making sure that the school didn’t cut down the tree.

“As I see it, the rational for preserving the … tree is about history, tradition, pride and respect,” she said. “The tree is a symbol of strength and resilience and far predates the university as part of the landscape.”

Consultants who have visited the campus estimate that the tree, once moved, will have a 70 to 80 percent chance of survival, Fitzgerald said. Moving the tree requires special nourishment until it is moved late in fall. In the years that follow, extra care will be given to increase its chances of survival.

“If the advice had come back that there was slim to little chance that this would survive, we wouldn’t do it,” Fitzgerald said. “While there’s no guarantees with moving trees this size and age, they are very confident this can be done successfully.”

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Information from: The Ann Arbor News, http://www.mlive.com/ann-arbor