When I read Saturday’s State Journal article “‘Pine crime’ solved” about the three students apprehended for the theft of a rare Arboretum pine tree, I thought there was a typo.
The article indicates the fine was $200.50. Surely, I thought, the decimal point was misplaced, and the actual fine was $2,005. But that still seemed too small, given that the damage was estimated to be $13,000. Perhaps $20,050?
When I checked other sources, I discovered that $200.50 was no typo.
Our laws protecting the Arboretum and, more generally, the natural world need to be much stricter. More importantly, our educational system needs to educate students about the fragility and profound value of nature. If a single student had engaged in this theft/vandalism, it might be dismissed as an aberration. When three university students do this as a fraternity prank, it is not an aberration but a failure of education.
I hope that the three students are required to do many hours of service in the Arboretum, which is a true Madison gem. Perhaps a required course in botany as well.
More generally, our educational institutions, from kindergarten through college, need to instill a love and appreciation of nature.