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U of M to move 250-year-old bur oak this weekend

Tracy Samilton/Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan is moving a 250-year-old bur oak tree this weekend to make way for an expansion of the Ross School of Business.

The $400,000 cost of moving the tree will come from a $100 million donation for the expansion from philanthropist Stephen Ross.

U of M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the project will save a piece of living U of M history, "and  provide a teachable moment where we can learn about this process, because we've – at the University of Michigan – we've never moved a tree like this before."

The tree will have a new home at the main entrance to the business school.  

Paul Cox with Environmental Design is in charge of the project. 

He says preparations for moving the tree began nearly a year ago. 

A week before the day of the move, the 40-foot-diameter root ball of the tree will be wrapped in plastic and burlap, and rested on long metal pipes.

 "While it does look fairly radical, and invasive – and it is," says Cox, "if it's done properly, chances of survival are fantastic."

The tree will be slowly moved on Saturday to the front of the Ross Business School, and then placed in its new home in the ground on Sunday.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.