Removing dirt from around tree base

I have two large trees in my backyard. One is an oak and the other is an ash. Currently the trees are surrounded by double stacked landscape timbers. Behind the timbers, up to the trunks, dirt is piled 6-8 inches deep. I suspect the previous owners did this since this piled dirt is the highest points in the yard.
Here's my question. Would it be safe for the trees if I were to remove all the excess dirt surrounding them bringing the level back to the rest of the yard? The dirt has been there for at least five years.
Thanks Mike
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the shock factor, you could remove it in stages. Dirt shouldn't be that far up the trunk if I'm picturing your description right.
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You know, the thing with the dirt around the trees is kinda funny. Now, I see that what's popular at universities and corporate sites is the making of dirt rings around the trees, where a nice tidy circle is cut maybe 3 feet from the trunk circling the tree with a mini ditch less than a foot deep. Then, they pile the dirt up to the tree making a little incline. Go figure. Form before function I guess.
Steveo wrote:

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I never liked the look of that at our local university campus. They began that about ten years ago. Never really having considering the matter, I just happened to realize that it might have a real function. College age students like to hang out somewhere between classes. Trees are a fine spot - shade provides for easier book reading and the tree trunk makes for good back support. Much better than studying a few feet from the trunk and having to support your own back. This makes for a lot of wear and tear around the tree which might eventually affect tree longevity. The mulched or dirt incline makes it more difficult to lean against the tree due to slippage and the students clothes are more likely to get dirty thereby keeping students at a distance.
Just my own theory, Merle
-- Tom
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