MURRAY — The Arboretum at Murray State University has been a popular spot for a variety of activities since opening in the fall of 2013.
Lately, however, Dava Hayden, manager of the facility, says some visitors are not treating this facility with the respect it deserves.
“We’ve actually had some of our signs thrown into the water. That happened last week,” Hayden said on Tuesday, one day after a photograph appeared in the Murray Ledger & Times of two visitors fishing in the pond where that sign was found. Among other things that sign listed as things not to do was fishing in the pond.
“I’m sure (the anglers) were not meaning to cause a problem,” she said. “Of course, the sign wasn’t there, so they probably didn’t know. However, the fish are there strictly for mosquito control, along with helping our aquatic vegetation stay controlled. Also, with (small children) walking around out there, sometimes in their bare feet, we don’t want to take a chance of their little feet stepping on a hook or something.”
However, the sign incident is just one of several things Hayden says have occurred at the Arboretum in the past several weeks. One of the most egregious acts, she said, came a few weeks ago when someone took several of the large rocks for a garden atop what is known as “The Mountain” at the south end of the facility and tossed them into the water fall that was designed.
Hayden said a lot of effort was required to correct this matter.
“As a matter of fact, the top of The Mountain had to be redone, because some of the grass was also damaged,” she said. “We also have people going into the waterfall, along with their dogs, and nobody is supposed to be going in that water. Still, the fact that someone took our rocks and would just throw them around like that really bothers us.
“This is not a public park. It is a public garden, but it is also used for our horticulture classes and greenhouse production classes, and a lot of effort goes into this. Plus, I’m the only full-time person here, so it’s hard to keep up with everything that happens here.”
The Arboretum consists of 43 acres. At its northern edge is where most of the horticulture-based features, including the aforementioned greenhouse, are located. This is also the northern entrance to the walking path that meanders throughout the facility and features a wide variety of plants and flowers under the protection of several shade trees.
At the south end of the facility is The Mountain, along with its accompanying pond. Another wooded area protects a few playgrounds for children. Hayden said between 200 and 300 visitors come to the Arboretum daily.
Dogs are allowed on the walking trails, but Hayden said several occasions lately indicate that some of their owners are not adhering to the policy of picking up after their animals have relieved themselves.
“We don’t want to have to not allow dogs there, but the owners have to do a better job with that,” she said.
As for the sign and Mountain incidents, Hayden said both the Murray Police Department and Murray State police have been contacted. Anyone with information can phone MPD at 270-753-1621 or Murray State PD at 270-809-2222.