Golf is more than hitting a small ball on a patch of grass. Part of the joy of golfing at Oregon State University’s Trysting Tree Golf Club is spotting bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, herons, and other species of birds in the awnings of the majestic poplars bordering the Willamette River.

While playing golf, you can also have the chance to see a beaver, a coyote, a fox or a raccoon hiding at the foot of these gallery forests. Unfortunately, soon all of this will be gone. Old cottonwood trees, some over five feet in diameter, are cut along the Willamette River on the golf course. The liquidation of these huge trees is very alarming as poplars are recognized as “key species” and provide habitat for more wildlife than any other type of forest in the western United States.

Arguably these poplars have even more ecological value than the old conifers that were recently felled in OSU’s McDonald Forest. Removing the oldest and largest trees along the Willamette River is clearly embarrassing to OSU and contrary to its goals of sustainable natural resource management.

Poplars are conspicuously suppressed because golf course managers perceive them as a danger to golfers. By this logic, each poplar in Willamette Park or Corvallis Riverfront Park should be cut to protect the thousands of users who enjoy these parks. So we wonder why so many people are being kidnapped at Trysting Tree when it is clear that the vast majority of poplars are not a safety concern? Plus, why were dozens of Oregon ash trees cut down along the riverbanks? These trees have no influence on the safety of golfers but help protect the banks of the river during high flows.