Cold Weather Safety
Most Vandals are familiar with the campus walkway/pedestrian mall that extends throughout much of the center of campus. It is important to keep in mind that this well-marked series of streets is a multi-use area. That means that while vehicles are restricted, those with valid walkway access permits do share the streets in the campus core. All vehicles (motorized vehicles, skateboards, bicycles, etc.) using the campus walkway must travel no faster than walk speed, or about three (3) miles per hour. Managed parking for a variety of types of spaces, including disability, Vandal Reserved, service, delivery and other special use spaces, are clustered in the campus walkway. Walkway users should remain alert for intermittent motorized vehicles, including SMART Transit buses, that share this important multi-use space.
Colder weather and more layers of clothes can mean hats pulled down low on faces and scarves wrapped warmly around, and both can partly obscure vision. Pedestrians in darker colored clothing, shorter days, less sunshine and fogged or icy car windows can all increase the challenge of seeing pedestrians and giving them the right of way - and can make it harder for pedestrians to use their full peripheral vision to watch for moving traffic.
Wet or frozen streets and sidewalks increase the need for caution from all users. Allow extra time when walking, biking or driving. Remember that getting safely to the next warm place requires extra awareness from the whole Vandal community. Help #KeepCampusMoving by traveling cautiously on foot, by bike or in a motorized vehicle as temperatures drop and cold weather creates additional hazards. Visit our seasonal safety information for more tips on navigating campus in winter.
We're all familiar with the warnings against feeding animals in our state and national parks. While we don't typically find bears on the Moscow campus, the same constraints apply to the feeding of other animals. Faculty, staff and students are guided by U of I policy (APM 40.22) which notes "Feeding of natural and feral wildlife is prohibited because of ongoing safety and health issues, vermin population increases around campus buildings and damage to landscape plant materials from increased and non-sustainable animal populations."
The science and evidence behind this policy clearly shows this practice is harmful to wildlife populations in the long run. A quick web search on this topic provides numerous informational articles as to why this practice is a bad deal for our wildlife populations here on campus, and in our parks, campgrounds and forests:
- Wildlife fed by humans often become dependent on this unnatural and sporadic food source, and depending on what is being offered to them, it may cause wildlife to suffer nutritionally as well.
- Feeding wildlife also decreases an animal's natural fear of humans and can lead to more aggressive behavior towards humans because of population increases or a reduction in these non-sustainable food sources.
- Feeding of birds and feral cats is especially problematic on our campus because of the increase in other wildlife and rodent populations that eat the same foods as these animals and can lead to increased infestations of mice, rats and insects in buildings and increased amounts of fecal matter and other unsanitary litter around buildings. Also, without regular and thorough cleaning of feeders and food bowls, there is an increased potential of causing a disease outbreak amongst the various wildlife.
- Currently U of I spends thousands of dollars annually in the mitigation of building pests. Supplying these creatures with a food source near buildings negates mitigation efforts and exacerbates this problem.
- Lastly, a specific issue affecting the U of I campus is the current overpopulation of squirrels is having a damaging effect on our iconic Camperdown elms due to the chewing damage they do to these historic trees throughout the year. Twenty years ago, this wasn't much of an issue, but in the last ten years, it has become significant.
The campus landscape plantings provide an ample food supply of nuts, seeds and fruits for our campus wildlife population. Upsetting this balance only causes long term problems for the wildlife and the campus community. Please support a long term sustainable wildlife population on our campus by not feeding them.
Thank You, the Landscape Staff
Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs), also known as Specialty OHVs (SOHVs), are increasingly used for work and play because of the growing availability and versatility of these vehicles. SOHVs include golf carts, utility vehicles, 4-wheelers, ATVs, carts, gators, mules and other low speed vehicles, and the widespread use has increased the number of accidents and fatalities caused by misuse. According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, there are more than 100,000 injuries and 700 deaths annually involving ATVs.
While the university is currently working on a policy specific to operating SOHVs, state/federal laws and UI/Departmental vehicle use agreements still apply. When driving these vehicles on campus, additional rules apply such as operating at pedestrian speeds and following the vehicle use policy. Be aware of your surroundings when you park your SOHV as well; these vehicles can become quite hot underneath and ignite dry grasses below them. Yes, this actually has happened on campus! Some additional safety tips are below.
- Get hands on training: Many deaths and injuries occur when an inexperienced driver loses control of an ATV, is thrown from an ATV, overturns the vehicle or collides with a fixed object or a motor vehicle. Hands-on training can give experienced and first-time riders the skills to handle multiple riding situations that can happen in off-road conditions. Check in your area for classes in safe operation of your ATV or motorbike. If purchasing a new toy, ask the dealer for recommendations and be sure to get a thorough orientation to your equipment before taking it out to play. Rental facilities should also provide orientation to the machine before use.
- Don't overload the vehicle: Allowing more people or gear on the vehicle than it was designed to carry can shift the balance causing it to overturn, affect braking and impede the driver's ability to control the vehicle.
- Ensure age appropriateness: The vehicle should be designed for the age, size and weight of the operator. Many injuries and fatalities occur when a vehicle is operated by a person who does not have the motor skills for safe operation. Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes or ATVs that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.
- Always wear helmets and other protective gear: CPSC and the ATV Safety Institute recommend U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) certified helmets. Riders should also wear goggles, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and over-the-ankle boots.
As when using any motorized vehicle, separate your driving from use of alcohol or recreational drugs. More information and tips are available through OSHA's website on ATV hazards.
Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) is pleased to offer Pit Crew services to help keep vehicles moving on campus. In over 11 years, PTS staff have helped more than 1,300 drivers on campus with Pit Crew service calls. How exactly do we help? Pit Crew offers:
- Jump starts
- Vehicle unlocks (For some vehicle makes/models, cold temperatures may prevent us from being able to unlock your vehicle)
- Assistance with flat tires
- Gas cans for loan
- A shovel and sand in the winter so you can get out of snowy parking situations.
Pit Crew Services are provided on U of I-managed property on the Moscow campus for FREE from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you need assistance outside of these times, leave us a voicemail at 208-885-6424 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll reach out to you as soon as possible when our office opens.
PTS staff report that new Vandals and their families are always pleased to learn about Pit Crew services. "We love sharing information about Pit Crew when we talk to incoming students and their families," states Rebecca Couch, Director of PTS. "During UIdaho Bound events this year, we see the relief on parents' faces, especially, when they learn we can help out when their students will be far from home."
Learn more about Parking and Transportation Services and stay current with parking updates and closures, find parking maps, learn about alternative transportation options, parking permits and more when you visit them online, call them for information at 208-885-6424 or email them at email@example.com.
Weather during the winter and spring months can lead to water damage to buildings and the contents inside. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), Risk and Facilities urge all university locations to inspect property regularly and actively look for ways to prevent water intrusions and damage. We encourage reporting of large snow loads, frost heaves, freezing of pipes, and cracks or fissures that drain snow melt into unwanted areas.
Moscow area: If you notice any of these issues on the Moscow campus, please report your concerns immediately to Facilities 208-885-6246 so that we can work to prevent loss of infrastructure and resources in a timely manner. A water leak is an emergency - do not rely on voicemail. If a loss occurs during regular business hours, contact Facilities at 208-885-6246 immediately. Outside of regular working hours, contact Security at 208-885-7054.
Outside of Moscow area: Report water intrusions to Risk at 208-885-7177 so an adjustor can be assigned. Report situations that could lead to damaged structures to your college or division leadership for mitigation to prevent water intrusions from occurring.
When a water intrusion is reported to either Facilities or Security, notice is also sent to EHS and to Risk. Water should be dried out within 48 hours to prevent mold growth. Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause health effects and symptoms. EHS will monitor the drying operations, conduct surveys and monitor the moisture percentage in the affected areas. Risk will assist the unit with property claims management.
What to watch for and report:
- Building exteriors: signs of heavy snow load or ice damming. Make sure drains are free of snow/ice and operable.
- Building interiors: signs of sagging ceiling components, doors and windows that do not open or close properly, wet carpet or stained ceiling tiles, cracks in walls or masonry and leaks.
- Noise: popping, cracking or creaking noises can indicate imminent trouble, such as structural collapse.
What you can do to help:
- Anticipate and take steps to prevent water from entering unwanted areas.
- Elevate contents (e.g., records, equipment) that may be subject to damage from backup of drains or water from other sources.
Some property insurance coverage notes:
- Deductibles are the responsibility of the department.
- Policy is intended to apply to "sudden and accidental" losses - exclusions include "wear and tear" and continuous or repeated water intrusion over 14 days or more.
If you have inquiries about ways to help prevent water intrusions and damage, contact EHS 208-885-6524.
Flash floods and rising waters can occur quickly and are not uncommon on the Palouse this time of year. Please be wise about your actions when weather reports predict the possibility of this happening. Warning signs: unusually hard rain over several hours; steady substantial rain over several days; and rains in conjunction with a spring thaw.
If water is backing up on Paradise Creek as it flows across campus—typically near culverts—report the concern to Facilities (208-885-6246) and Environmental Health and Safety (208-885-6524).
Precautions to take: although these seem obvious, they are important!
- Remain aware and monitor local radio, television and go online for up-to-date National Weather Service alerts. If flash floods are possible, move to higher ground.
- Be watchful at bridges and low areas that could have rushing water and over running banks, especially Paradise Creek in Moscow.
- Avoid flood waters and fast moving creeks and rivers. Don't walk or drive into moving water. Just inches of moving water can knock you down. Read more about flood safety.
- Refrain from kayaking, inner tubing or doing any other water activity during flood conditions. Floodwater may be contaminated with oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Floodwater may also be charged with electricity from fallen power lines.
- Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. Moving water is very easy to underestimate. Driving through any sort of moving water can sweep your car right off the road, even in seemingly mild flooding as shallow as a few inches.
The Report a Safety Concern form provides users a quick and easy way to submit non-emergency safety concerns on campus. With three required questions: what the safety concern/issue is, location and date observed; it only takes a moment to complete the mobile-friendly form. You also have the option to include a picture of the hazard if applicable. The form may be submitted anonymously if desired, keeping in mind it may be harder to resolve the situation if further information is required.
Submitted forms are directed to the appropriate department/unit for review and consideration.
Thank you for taking the time to report a safety issue or concern right away. For questions, please contact EHS at 208-885-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
University of Idaho Campus Security wants to remind the Vandal Community about a free, 24/7 service it offers year-round called Safe Walk. This service is available to all students, faculty, staff and U of I visitors.
A quick call to Campus Security is all that is needed to request the Safe Walk service - no questions asked. A security officer will meet a caller any place on the Moscow campus and walk that person(s) to their destination on campus. Campus Security encourages the campus community to use Safe Walk when needed.
U of I Facilities is seeking faculty, staff and student help in reducing slippery, icy areas on campus - by using the "Sand Can" - which means scooping and spreading sand on slippery pavement areas.
A Sand Can is a garbage can or bucket - labeled "SAND" on top - that has sand and a scoop inside. Currently, over 30 sand cans/buckets are located across the Moscow campus - inside or outside building entrances where slick conditions exist.
Every winter, the Facilities Snow and Ice Prevention Team applies hundreds of tons of rock and sand around campus to increase traction. But with changing weather and ground conditions, new slick spots surface quickly. Please help to reduce the chance of a fellow Vandal tripping, slipping or even falling by taking a minute to spread sand on a discovered slick surface.
Scoop, Spread and Shut.
Sand Cans and buckets are for the entire U of I community to use. No technical skill or training is required.
- Take a scoop of sand out of the can or bucket; throw or spread the sand on the slick surface.
- Remember to look out for people around you when applying the sand.
- Return the scoop to the can/bucket and shut the lid when done.
Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of serious injury to the university’s faculty, staff and students every year. In the 2016-2017 academic year, it was the number one cause of injuries, accounting for over 31% of all incurred injuries. And, about half of those incidents did not involve snow or ice.
Practice prevention by reading the 6 Tips for Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls, and taking a short, online training to learn more about how to avoid this from happening to you.
It's officially spring, and time to think about putting winter safety gear aside for another season. If you use studded snow tires, remember that the last day for using these tires in Idaho is April 30. Even if it is still a legal time to use them, the metal cleats embedded in the tread can cause unnecessary wear on bare roadways. The Idaho Transportation Department encourages removing studded snow tires when conditions allow, which may be earlier than April 30th.
If you are traveling, it's important to know that studded tire laws vary in neighboring states:
- Montana: Oct. 1 - May 31
- Nevada: Oct. 1 - April 30
- Utah: Oct. 15 - March 31
- Oregon: Nov. 1 - March 31
- Washington: Nov. 1 - March 31
- Wyoming: Legal all year
While you're having your studded winter tires removed, it's a great time to have your alignment checked. Proper wheel alignment contributes to better fuel economy, handling and even tire wear.
Fall and Winter Break are rapidly approaching, and many in the Vandal family will be traveling around the state of Idaho to enjoy some time away from the daily routine. Regardless of where you are heading or what you will be doing, keep safety in mind. Take the time to complete all safety checks before using any equipment for your chosen activity. A few extra minutes ahead of time may save a lot of hours later if something goes wrong.
Winter is just getting started, so if you are traveling by car, be familiar with the winter driving hazards you may encounter. Check out the Safety Tip on Winter Driving Hazards for things to keep in mind before you go. The tip on Winter Conditions offers additional reminders for driving in low light and dark conditions.
If you aren't so sure you and your vehicle are ready for icy, snowy roads, a travel option for students is the Vandal Break Bus, a joint program of Parking and Transportation Services and the Dean of Students. The National Safety Council statistics show that in 2020 (the most recent year for their published statistics), the fatality rate in passenger vehicles was over ten times higher than that in buses. If the Vandal Break Bus is not convenient for you, check out the PTS website for alternative options. PTS also has information on the specific enforcement regulations that will be in place during the break. If you are leaving a car behind be sure to review those, too. Did you know that overnight on-street parking is prohibited during breaks?
Questions? PTS is a great resource for information about local and regional transportation. Use the links above or reach out at email@example.com or 208-885-6424.
While walking to your office, a meeting, or other work site, you find your usual route is now covered in a pile of snow. You make the decision to walk over the pile. Next, you find yourself on the ground covered in snow. Perhaps the only thing hurt this time is your pride but things could have been a lot worse.
Each year, the university receives reports of accidents where individuals have chosen to climb over snow piles, cross landscaped areas, or taken pathways or roads that have not (yet) been cleared of snow and ice. These accidents may have been avoided by taking an alternate path through the winter months.
During periods of significant snow fall followed by cold conditions some traditional paths can be covered with snow or ice. Snowplows on campus are limited in the number of locations they can push snow. Because of this, it will be common to see snow piles around the edges of parking lots and roadways. Do not attempt to walk over or through these piles. The deep snow can cover hidden hazards and does not provide a stable walking surface.
Snow melt during the day followed by a cold night often leads to ice building up on parking lots and some walkways. Although university personnel work to maintain clear routes it often becomes impossible to fully clear and maintain all of campus.
Consider these tips to help navigate winter walkways:
- Stay on cleared and maintained walkways. Around campus, walk on sidewalks that are heated by the steam tunnels. These paths stay clear through most weather conditions.
- Wipe your feet when entering buildings and remove traction devices. Those first few steps into the building may be slippery from tracked snow and water.
- Walk like a penguin - keep your stride wide and short. Align your core to keep your center of gravity low and centered over your hips and feet.
- Wear appropriate footwear for the weather and conditions. Winter boots with traction are a good place to start and help keep your feet warm and dry.
- Add additional traction by using devices that slip over your footwear, such as YakTrax or Korkees. EHS has free devices for faculty and staff - OIT, Facilities and Auxiliaries have their own programs.
- Use handrails when going up and down stairs.
- Don't multi-task while walking - put the phone away and look where you are going.
- Keep your hands free and out of your pockets so you can catch yourself if you slip or fall.
- Help your fellow Vandals by scattering sand from the supplied buckets whenever needed, especially if you are the first to arrive in the morning or if weather changes during the day.
Please report any accidents and injuries through the Accident Report Form. If you notice a safety concern, please submit a mobile-friendly Safety Concern Form. For icy conditions that cannot be addressed with some sand from a sand bucket, contact Facilities at 208-885-6246.
Winter is a fun and invigorating time of the year when you keep yourself safe. It is darker earlier in the evening and combining that with snow and ice in the roads and walkways makes conditions more hazardous for everyone. It is important that we take responsibility for our safety and keep the information below in mind.
Night Comes Early!
Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can all be compromised in dark conditions. This affects drivers and pedestrians.
- Drivers: be aware of crosswalk locations and scan for pedestrians.
- Drivers: slow down and leave more space between you and the car ahead - your headlights will cause reflections inside the vehicle in front of you, making it harder for that driver to see pedestrians and other obstacles.
- Pedestrians: wear bright clothing or something reflective on you or your backpack.
- Pedestrians: consider that a driver may be blinded by oncoming headlights and be unable to see you in the road.
Icy roads, with or without poor lighting, make crosswalks hazardous.
- Pedestrians: assume drivers DON'T see you.
- Pedestrians: Wait for cars to stop before stepping into the crosswalk.
- Drivers: Acknowledge pedestrians waiting to cross so they know you've seen them.
- Pedestrians: Make real eye contact with the drivers/look for them to acknowledge you, if possible, and then proceed with caution.
Even a small amount of snow or ice can be dangerous. Watch out for wet floors when you enter buildings. Snow may get tracked inside and then melt, creating a slip hazard.
- Waddle like a penguin.
- Free traction devices are available to employees at Risk or EHS.
- Keep your hands free and out of pockets. Winter is not a good time to play Pokemon Go, or do anything else on your phone while walking.
- Use hand rails where provided.
- If you see ice, scatter sand. Sand is available in many locations around campus; watch for cans labeled "Sand" - while they may look like it, they are not trash cans and should not be used as such.
In addition to the standard "buckle up" and "slow down - take your time" reminders for any time of year, winter driving takes skill and preparation. Keep in mind this may be the first time for some drivers to practice these skills.
- Clear all your windows, completely, before starting to drive – even a small amount of snow buildup on the outside or fog on the inside can block your view of a pedestrian.
- Studded snow tires and four-wheel/all-wheel drive do not make your vehicle invincible; you will still need extra time to accelerate to a safe speed and come to full stops.
- Travel with extra warm clothing, food and water for yourself; keep a full tank of fuel and have proper maintenance performed for your vehicle.
- Delay travel, when possible, until road conditions improve.
- If you should slide off the road, stay in your vehicle while you wait for assistance.
Winter driving calls for special skills and a bit of preparation. Here are some tips that may keep you warm and safe this winter as you travel for work and pleasure.
- Before you travel, make a travel plan for the entire trip. Schedule stops every 2-3 hours, and leave a travel itinerary with someone from your departing location and with someone at your arrival location. Google Maps is a great way of making a trip plan.
- If your route does take you through inclement weather, plan accordingly by extending your travel by a few hours or even an extra day to accommodate.
- Maintain communication with people from your departing location and your arriving location. If plans change, keep them informed.
- Keep your vehicle in the best possible driving condition. This includes good winter weather tires that are properly inflated.
- Check the condition and fit of your chains. If you have never put chains on, practice once before the snow falls. Use your floor mat to stay dry while kneeling on the ground.
- Make sure your coolant and wiper fluid are rated for sub-freezing temperatures.
- Clean your headlights, brake lights, and turn indicators.
- Don't start driving until the windows are clear and you have good visibility.
- Do not use cruise control on wet, snow-covered, or icy roads.
- Maintain smooth and gentle input on the controls when braking, accelerating, and turning.
- Keep your vehicle fueled, and your phone charged.
- Buckle up! All occupants should be properly secured, including pets and children.
- After you arrive at your destination, call back to your departing location and let those who know you're traveling know that you have arrived safely.
It is a good idea to keep a winter emergency kit in the vehicle. This should include extra gloves, socks, a hat, flashlight and batteries, a blanket, bottled water, non-perishable food items, a pocketknife, first aid kit and a brightly colored scarf to attract attention in case of emergency. You might also keep jumper cables, emergency flares, a small shovel and a small sack of sand or kitty litter for traction if you get stuck.
If something happens and you are stranded or stuck, stay with your vehicle. If you run your car for heat, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow. Most deaths occur when people leave their vehicle, get lost and freeze.
Most important, check the road and weather reports before your trip. If conditions warrant, delay or cancel your trip until travel conditions improve. Current road conditions nationwide can be found at: fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/.
You are out of time and that snow bank doesn’t look too high - why not take a short cut? Well, that’s not the way to make it safely to class or your next meeting! For your safety, please use the maintained sidewalks and main paths of travel through campus, especially when it comes to our hills. Even better, take a few extra steps and follow the sidewalks that are over the steam tunnels when possible. Those are less likely to freeze and accumulate ice.
We have had a few accidents reported from people cutting across landscaped areas and using access roads to walk from parking lots to their work location. If a road you normally walk along is icy, avoid taking a fall by going an extra block to use cleared sidewalks. While walking across campus, please realize that vehicles may not be able to stop in a short distance in icy conditions. Look before approaching the street to cross, stop a short distance away from the curb to wait and stay aware of your surroundings.
You have heard it before but we'll say it again, traction devices are still available at no charge to all faculty and staff through Risk Management or Environmental Health and Safety on a first-come, first-served basis. Please use these devices to improve your walking experience during colder, icy or snowy times. Parking lots are plowed, not sanded or salted. Those first few steps away from your vehicle may be your greatest risk; put the devices on for the trip from car to work.
We all know not to pass a snow plow on the right, but what else can you do to stay safe around this equipment? Do you know what to do to assist Parking Services and Facilities in their snow removal efforts? It is good to revisit critical parking and plowing protocols periodically to know what to do during any snow event for the U of I campus. Whether your vehicle is an auto or bike, if all vehicle operators will read and heed these guidelines, the overall safety and efficiency for snow and ice mitigation on our campus will increase. As a pedestrian, don't forget the free traction pullover program for employees.
- Snow poles designate spaces for NO PARKING. Snow clearing will be improved this season with the designation of seasonal "no parking" spaces in residential parking lots. Snow poles are temporary and will be placed annually in late fall and removed in spring after the threat of snow passes. With these parking spaces cleared of vehicles throughout the winter season, when the snow does fall the plows will have increased clearance in residential parking lots, improving plow and driver safety and ensuring that space for relocating snow out of the driving lanes will always be available. The addition of snow poles will make everyone's winter parking experience safer and will accelerate the rate at which lots can be plowed.
- Snow and ice removal equipment is emergency equipment and should be treated as such. Whether operating a vehicle or walking on campus, give these pieces of equipment a wide berth. The equipment operators are focused on their snow and ice removal duties and will often have to change directions quickly. Be safe and stay back or take an alternate route to avoid equipment in operation.
- Rock, sand and deicer are spread on streets, walkways and entry/exit points of buildings to provide better traction, but it is impossible to cover every square foot of the campus hardscape with these materials and keep them from being worn off throughout the day. Slick conditions will occur regardless, so it is imperative that proper winter snow tires be on vehicles and that safety footwear is used when walking on campus.
- When arriving on campus, look for parking lots that have already been cleared of snow, and park in those lots first. If you see snow plows in a lot, avoid parking there until they have finished their work. Parking in a lot being cleared only impedes progress and endangers your safety.
- While winter biking has gained in popularity, please realize that many of the bike parking areas on campus become snow-piling areas in the winter time. This is necessary to keep campus walkways as clear and safe as possible for our pedestrian campus. With that in mind, please refer to APM 40.32.A6 for information on properly securing your bike on campus.
Check out the Parking and Transportation website or call 208-885-6424 for further information concerning vehicle parking (bikes and cars) and other snow clearance information.
Yearly winter sand and gravel cleanup starts soon. Facilities often starts during Spring Break but may adjust to a later date depending on weather conditions. Generally, Parking and Transportation Services will post all impacted streets the week prior, advising students and staff to move their cars off the streets and into storage lots to allow street cleaning equipment to get to curb lines. Work begins on streets and walkways, and then the Hardscape team will move into parking lots. Meanwhile, the Landscape staff works to move gravel from the turf and into the street for easier collection by the street sweeper.
Anyone noting the street sweeper while driving should pay careful attention to it, as it makes sharp turns as it cleans the streets. Stay safely back and away from it until you are clear to pass, as rock can be thrown by this machine. Landscape staff using blowers and power brooms are using hearing protection, and they may not hear or see pedestrians approaching. Give them a wide berth as well for your safety.
Sand and gravel cleanup continues until all the campus hardscape has been dealt with. This can easily go up to and through commencement, depending on the severity of the previous winter. At the same time, other Facilities staff are working hard to clear the storm drains across campus of rock and debris that has gathered over the winter as well. Every year tons of rock and sand are gathered during cleanup, and much of it is re-used on campus gravel roads or elsewhere where winter rock can be of use again.
Be alert during this time for your own safety.
Everyone enjoys the smell of the holidays: fresh-baked cookies, cinnamon and cloves, fresh-cut evergreens, skunk scent and fox urine. At least, those last two is what Christmas will smell like for anyone tempted to cut down a Christmas tree from the University of Idaho's Moscow campus.
Each year, the landscape team at U of I sprays about 100 trees on campus with a natural repellent of skunk scent and fox urine, as well as a sticking agent, to protect them from theft and destruction during the holiday season.
The repellent is fairly innocuous while outdoors in colder temperatures, but if brought into a warm room volatilizes quickly and emits a repugnant odor that will remain in the room and on furniture and carpeting for a long period of time. This material is completely natural and doesn't harm the trees or the environment and stays on the trees for about 4 weeks depending on weather.
Commercial Christmas trees are grown and marketed specifically for the holidays. Permits can also be taken out for cutting your own Christmas trees in our nearby forests. Stealing a landscape evergreen tree that is worth from $500 to $2500 dollars depending on the size, location and species of tree taken, is a huge loss for the university landscape.
Some signage is posted around campus to deter would-be thieves and inform the public of what is happening, but we do not sign most of the trees that are sprayed. We want to protect our landscape trees from needless destruction and both U of I Security and the Moscow Police Department are informed about this yearly protection program as well. Stealing or vandalizing an evergreen on campus can result in a felony charge.
Anyone with knowledge about campus tree thefts should notify Moscow Police immediately by calling 208-882-2677.