Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

Community reluctantly bidding farewell to 600-year-old tree

Community reluctantly bidding farewell to 600-year-old tree

Over the years, the tree served as a backdrop for countless family photos and even shielded George Washington from the sun during a few picnics during the American Revolution, according to legend.

A crowd is expected to say goodbye Monday as crews begin to cut down a historic white oak tree on the grounds of a church in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Workers operating a pair of smaller cranes meticulously began cutting the ancient tree down early on Monday morning.

"I know it seems amusing to some to mourn a tree, but I'm really going to miss seeing it", said Bernards resident Monica Evans, recalling family photos during weddings and communions.

Another white oak cultivated from the old tree's acorns was recently planted at the church.It now stands about 20 feet tall.

"It's a really big symbol, welcoming to see every year and so sad to watch it go", said resident Marie Young. Arborists say that the removal is necessary because it would have fallen of its own accord during the coming winters or spring storms.

Klippel said they are prepared for some surprises, including 3 tons of concrete somewhere in the tree originally to help preserve it.

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The church was built in 1717, and the tree was there before Columbus.

"It has been an integral part of the town, that's for sure", said Jon Klippel, a member of the church's planning council.

The sprawling tree is about 100 feet tall, has a trunk that's 18 feet wide and branches that reach 150 feet, NBC New York reported.

"All my children went to Tree House [the preschool on church property]", said nearby resident Lisa Dudzik. At first, officials thought they would be able to simply remove segments of the larger limbs, but the rot was too severe. Last summer, however, the massive oak was declared dead. "We've been blessed to have it here".

One of the oldest oak trees in North America is being cut down.

A 600-year-old white oak tree in New Jersey that's believed to be among the oldest in the nation is about to come down. They note that several factors - including droughts, intensive wildfires and invasive insects - that can greatly harm trees, which become more susceptible to damage as they age.

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