Trees falling near tennis court prompt caution

Old dead trees located in the woods behind the Johnson State College tennis courts are becoming a safety concern for JSC’s Public Safety.

On Sep. 15, JSC Public Safety Officer Michael Laflin, was in the parking lot next to the court performing some parking enforcement. He heard a loud noise in the trees behind the tennis courts, and when he looked in the direction of the noise he saw two very large pine trees shaking.

After viewing the wooded area to see what happened, he saw that there was a dead treetop that had fallen. The top was around a foot in diameter, and about 15 feet long. While in the area, he also noticed a lot of other dead trees that had fallen.

Laflin brought the situation to the attention of JSC Public Safety Director, Michael Palagonia. “The following day I went over to the area with JSC Public Safety Officer Matthew Hall, and we walked around in the woods and noted that there were a lot of trees that had fallen,” said Palagonia. “There were a lot of old roots sticking out of the ground, and a lot of branches and debris on the forest floor.” Palagonia decided that it would be a good idea to create and put up some signs warning people of the danger of falling trees, and telling them not to enter.

“This was all out of concern, because we noticed that this was an area that people had been frequently entering and hanging out,” said Palagonia. “We don’t want to see anyone get a tree limb to the head.”
Public Safety put up some caution tape in a couple of areas where there were paths into the woods near the area of concern, along with the signs. “Unfortunately in the last couple of days somebody had removed the tape and the signs,” says Palagonia. He mentioned that they also came upon a number of students in the area too, and they were asked to leave.

Following this incident, Public Safety replaced the caution tape and signs with new ones. “Eventually the area is scheduled to be logged,” says Palagonia. “This will hopefully reduce this concern.”
Palagonia explained that there are a lot of older dead trees in the area, and a lot of limbs have been falling off.

“What this is really about is a safety concern,” said Palagonia. “We don’t want to see anyone hurt. For their own safety, students should not go into the woods in that area.”

For the time being, Public Safety is working on a way to try to place more permanent signs in the area so people stop taking them down. “It is a legitimate safety concern, says Palagonia. “We just really don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Members of JSC’s Public Safety are going to continue checking on the area to make sure that some form of caution is up to warn individuals about the trees until they can create a more permanent way of warning people.

Public Safety is urging students to avoid the wooded areas behind the tennis courts for their own safety. The ongoing logging operations on campus have been very weather dependent. Logging the area behind the tennis courts may be put off until the winter months when the ground is frozen solid enough to get logging equipment into the area safely.