RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--It looks like more than a 100 new trees and lots of shrubs and other plants at new Redskins training facility here in Richmond. Pretty big, healthy trees - considering they were transplanted since winter.
Lots of pin oaks. Some scarlet oaks. Sycamores here and there. Loblolly pines, spruces and some beautiful species of birch, including some of paper bark birches.
During opening day Thursday, the thousands of fans had their eyes focused on the field. They couldn't see the forest for RG3.
But 'Skins fan Doug McDaniel is also a fan of trees. Years ago, he studied forestry.
"They did very well," he said, "considering the time frame" in which they had good weather for landscaping.
You may recall, during the public hearings for the facility, promises were made to keep some of the old growth trees on the somewhat neglected state property that would be transformed into the park.
But as soon as the heavy site work began, all the trees were "mysteriously" bulldozed as the park site was scraped as clean as a moonscape.
Howard Churchhill of Richmond, a longtime Hogette, remembers that those who made the promises didn't stay on top of it. "As a result, something happened that everyone wished hadn't happened."
But as I've said several times as the park progressed, there was no way those trees could've been saved if the facility was to open on time. In fact, given the vast shift in the topography of the site, most of the trees would've had to go regardless.
This is the way virtually all significant new contruction goes, from roads to shopping centers: clear, shape then plant.
Fans were able to see the 'Skins practice Thursday, on time, because the old trees were sacrificed.
As Churchill the Hogette said, "The real thing that everyone wanted to see, they kind of forgot that to get there takes something different. It's a beautiful facility. And what everybody seemed to have a problem with - give it two or three years" for the new trees and plants to fill out.
Many of those trees will be growing taller and larger for generations to come. Some of the birches and oaks will reach 70 feet or more during the next half-century, long after the 'Skins have left town, or - perhaps - moved lock stock and barrel here, since we're way cooler than that musty old Washington D.C.
Imagine, our own NFL team: The Richmond Red Oaks!