As all Aggies know, the Century Tree is one of the most iconic locations on campus and is near and dear to every Aggie's heart. Because of this, it is no wonder that we want to do all we can to preserve and protect the Century Tree. Dr. Todd Watson (BA '86, PhD '99), an adjunct professor and Master Arborist who happened to serve as the campus arborist in the 90s, began the push to install lightning protection during his tenure in the grounds department. While he’s no longer the campus arborist, Dr. Watson remains active on the TAMU campus tree committee where he told Grounds Manager Don Crawford of his idea in late 2014. Don has worked on the initiative intermittently for several years and, this spring during a campus tree committee meeting, the topic came up again. But, this time the committee was able to garner university approval.
Joseph Booth, the current campus arborist, collaborated with Jeff Lehde (BS '02, MS '03), TAMU Tree Committee Member, Master Arborist, and owner of The Plant People, to install the lightning protection system. This consists of cooper wire leads on the main leaders of the Century Tree, attached to lightning rods embedded 6 feet in the ground. The system also has an integrated fuse to monitor the tree for lightning strikes. The Grounds Department is grateful for the direct assistance of University Architect Lilia Gonzales, Bill Cox of Facilities and Dining Administration, Jeff Lehde, as well as Dr. Todd Watson, for his vision.
The Century Tree is sure to be around for years to come!