Campus benefiting from warm winter temps

The stretch of unseasonably warm weather we enjoyed allowed campus crews to catch up and get ahead on plenty of outdoor chores.

"We're going nuts to get to as much as we can," said Les Lawson, campus services manager for facilities planning and management. "We're taking a lot of weight off our spring load with what we can get done now."

Much of the work has been pruning and mulching, particularly along the "golden loop" -- the path taken by prospective students during campus visits. The weather has been favorable enough to get through about one-third of an upgrade to that route -- a project that wasn't slated to start until the spring.

Lawson said it's nearly unheard of to be moving trees during this time of year. Thanks to the absence of frost and frozen ground in December, crews were able to dig up and relocate several trees near the construction site for the new agricultural and biosystems engineering building north of Howe Hall.

Virtually all of the late-fall leaves have been picked up, and crews have been catching up on a backlog of work postponed by the frequent snowfalls over the last couple years. Lawson said the mild weather prevented an early crop of potholes and buckled roadways, and the cost savings of from very little salt and sand use also translates to less mess being tracked into campus buildings.

On the other hand

Despite the many benefits of warm winter weather, Lawson still is aware of possible adverse effects.

"It's not all good, either," he said. "We're probably going to see more diseases and insects in the spring, and drought conditions also could be a problem. But right now, we're taking advantage of the weather while we can."