WENATCHEE — Wenatchee Valley College recently ripped out an old maple tree near historic Wells House because it was diseased. The college plans to replace it with a native variety.

More than eight years ago, an arborist had identified the tree as a concern when evaluating trees as part of the Music and Art Center construction project. Last fall, a large limb from the silver maple tree fell to the ground.

At the time, the decision was made not to remove the tree.

“What happened was they topped that tree, which meant they determined the height and took the big branches off that tree,” said Rich Peters, WVC’s director of facilities and operations. “I imagine they did that for safety reasons due to the proximity to the Wells House. They looked at the trees and thought they did not want it falling into the Wells House, so they topped it.”

Peters said that process started to degrade the tree because the large branches could not heal properly and started to rot from the inside.

What led to the decision to remove the tree now, he said, was the very large pieces of wood falling from the tree and landing near a bench there.

“It was not safe for us to keep it in there anymore. We started the process of removing it. We had (president’s) cabinet approval. We talked to the museum (which owns Wells House) about it. We let them know about it. We had a sustainability team on campus,” Peters said. “We’re a Tree Campus USA, so that group was also made aware of the concern of what we were seeing there. It was safety more than anything else.”

As the tree was coming down, the branches were hollow. It was obviously the right decision to remove the tree, he said.

“There is a specific process to remove trees. We don’t like to remove trees. The grounds guy and I are sad this tree had to come out. It was a beautiful tree, but it wasn’t safe,” Peters said.

The plan is to plant a larger-caliper tree that is a native variety as a replacement for the silver maple.

WVC was designated as a Tree Campus USA college through the National Arbor Day Foundation in June 2020.