An abandoned forest was discovered on Troy University property Saturday morning, surprising both students and faculty.
The forest was found by Peter Stone, a sophomore environmental science major from Little Rock, Arkansas, during an early-morning jog.
“I was about three miles into my five-mile run, and by then I’d stopped paying attention to where I was going,” Stone said. “Before I knew it, there were trees everywhere.
“I didn’t know where I was, but I heard the bells, so I knew I wasn’t far from campus. I decided to head in that direction and popped out near the intramural fields.”
The forest — which has since been identified as the Troy University Arboretum — is 75 acres and is a nature preserve with over 300 species of trees, according to the city of Troy’s website. The website also mentions a “2.5-mile nature trail,” but almost every path is overgrown or hard to follow. The trail markers are worn, broken or missing completely due to years of negligence.
Ivory White, a freshman art major from Alabaster, noted the long-forgotten trails and bridges within the Arboretum.
“There’s a lot to explore, but it’s usually hard to tell if I’m on a path or lost in the middle of the woods,” White said. “The bridge over the pond has a bunch of boards missing, and there are nails sticking out everywhere.
“It’s isn’t very safe, and it’s obvious the university forgot about the Arboretum or else they would’ve fixed it up by now.”
Despite its faults, the Arboretum has become a popular spot since Saturday, bringing in adventurers and outdoorsmen alike. However, the largest group was students setting up hammocks, flooding the forest within an hour of its rediscovery.
“These trees are perfect,” said Jenny Jenkins, a junior multimedia journalism major from Jemison, as she set up her hammock. “This forest is fantastic.
“We won’t have to fight over hammocking spots anymore.”
While the university has not declared any plans to fix up the Arboretum, university first lady Janice Hawkins announced on Wednesday that there will be a statue exhibit coming to the forest during the fall 2018 semester.