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Not dead yet: Toomer’s Corner oaks given a fighting chance

Auburn Trees Poisoned AP

To quote “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “I’m not dead yet!”

Such is the case with the Toomer’s Corner tree poisoning incident.

Initially given a slim-to-none chance of surviving, Auburn officials have now said that lower amounts of the herbicide Spike 80DF were found in the top 6-8 inches of the soil surrounding the two live oak trees than originally feared.

Much of the top layer of the soil has been removed and replaced with a charcoal mix to try and absorb remaining traces of the herbicide in the week following the initial report.

“The good news is the concentrations are much lower than we initially detected in the beds around the trees. The bad news is we still detected herbicide,” said AU professor of horticulture Gary Keever. Keever has been on the task force assigned to try and save the trees.

“Is your glass half full or half empty? You can look at it either way. I choose to be an optimist because we’re doing the right thing.”

Auburn officials believe a four-pound box of Spike 80DF was used to poison the trees — enough to cover an acre — but aren’t sure how much of the herbicide was absorbed. Tests Monday will be conducted to see if ground water has been contaminated.

Harvey Updyke, the man suspected of poisoning the trees, was arrested shortly after supposedly calling a radio show to announce the act. He was released on $50,000 bail on Feb. 18, and according to the Birmingham News, has been living in his car by a creek somewhere in Alabama.

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17 Responses to “Not dead yet: Toomer’s Corner oaks given a fighting chance”
  1. superfbfan says: Feb 26, 2011 3:55 PM

  2. bamasucks says: Feb 26, 2011 5:00 PM

    if karma exists, those trees will outlive Harvey Updyke.

  3. southernpatriots says: Feb 26, 2011 5:07 PM

    That is good news! We are glad for Auburn and their students and fans. No pun intended, but we know they are “not out of the woods yet” because there is no way of yet knowing how much of this poison the two venerable Southern oak roots soaked up and is now in the tree bringing death. No, these trees are not children, or pets, or the Auburn mascot. But they are not just trees either or the nut would not have tried to kill them. They are landmarks, treasured memories, and a gathering place for all Auburn faithful. We have a few photos of ourselves out under them our better halves dug up with family and friends from Auburn. We wish all those who are working on the preservation of the trees the very best. We are also supporting the solidarity of the Alabama students, staff, and fans in their fund raising for Auburn by weekly donations to the fund. Anyone interested just go to Facebook and give via PayPal.

  4. Ben Kercheval says: Feb 26, 2011 5:11 PM


    Greatest response this week.

  5. Deb says: Feb 26, 2011 6:13 PM

    @superfbfan …

    Omigosh … Farley even looks like a younger version of Updyke in that clip. That’s hysterical! But I believe the community would be better served if Updyke were under psychiatric care instead of roaming the woods. Yikes!

    Was hoping the oaks would survive. Live oaks are tougher than a lot of other oak species. Maybe the nut wasn’t too thorough in laying out the poison.

  6. irishking says: Feb 26, 2011 6:19 PM

    I am thrilled to read this encouraging report.

  7. alligatorsnapper says: Feb 26, 2011 6:25 PM

    We are thrilled to hear the news. Southernpatriots told us about this horror. We are far removed from Auburn but our hearts go out to them. We gave to the fund today. Hope it helps. Hope the trees can be saved. Hope something can be done to lessen some of the extremes in fan fervor. Our grandmother planted a live oak about 110 years ago and it is now huge and has gone through numerous hurricanes and fires and is still there. Maybe these can be saved.

  8. Slim Charles says: Feb 27, 2011 2:21 AM

    I’m sure the university ag science dudes there are working full time to give the trees a chance. That’s awesome. It really irked me how these things stood for like 130 years and some retard almost ends it all.

  9. tryagainplease says: Feb 27, 2011 9:32 AM

    well isn’t this nice and convenient news given all the sympathy and outrage that the initial report created- they sure know how to work the pr game.

  10. Slim Charles says: Feb 27, 2011 11:15 AM

    tryagainplease – try again, please.

  11. southernpatriots says: Feb 27, 2011 11:21 AM

    Slim Charles: Thank you.

  12. edgy says: Feb 27, 2011 11:46 AM

    It’s one thing to steal a team’s mascot and ransom it back but it’s quite another to kill of a natural resource like this. You don’t have to be a tree hugger to appreciate what harm was done to them and why this went too far.

  13. irishking says: Feb 27, 2011 3:21 PM

    We have to believe those trees are going to live. Faith doesn’t always get you around trouble but it does get you through it.

  14. alligatorsnapper says: Feb 27, 2011 3:54 PM

    irishking: “Faith doesn’t always get you around trouble but it does get you through it.” Very true. And, “Faith without works is dead.” From what I read and hear, the folks at Auburn are working overtime, using all methods available to try to save the trees and other foliage around the area. They are working by faith that they will be able to save them, so we should have faith they will be able to.

  15. truwarier90 says: Feb 28, 2011 4:28 AM

    burn the damn tree down like how they burn couches in west virginia, auburn gets karma for employing a laptop crook and his crooked jerry maguire wannabe daddy.

  16. tigersgeaux says: Mar 1, 2011 10:09 AM

    A group of LSU students and alums are following the lead of some LSU alumini on this site and are contributing toward the Univ. of Alabama Facebook fund for Toomer’s Trees. This is an aweful situation. We sure hope they can save them.

  17. lucky5927 says: Mar 4, 2011 11:48 AM

    Matt Foley: Now, as your father told you, my name is Matt Foley, and I am a motivational speaker! Before I begin, I want to tell you a little about myself, so you’ll know where I’m coming from. First off, I am 35 years old.. I am thrice divorced.. I kill trees… and I live in a van down by the river!

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