Community reluctantly bids farewell to 600-year-old tree

Posted April 28, 2017

The removal work drew lots of attention from residents of a bedroom community about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of NY and other tree fans who saw it as a chance to bid a final farewell to their close friend.

A white oak tree - believed to be one of the oldest trees in North America - that stood in the cemetery of a New Jersey church began its descent Monday as crews started to cut it down.

Workers began Monday morning taking down a 600-year-old white oak that sits on the grounds of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards. They were due to return to the church Tuesday - weather permitting - to continue the process, which is expected to be completed by Wednesday.

The tree had stood for three centuries when the founders of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church made a decision to build the first church, a long cabin, by it in 1717.

It has been a lovely backdrop for photos over the years and it was the site of a picnic general George Washington held with Marquis de Lafayette.

Arborists say the tree existed for 300 years before the church was built in 1717.

Arborists determined it would not withstand many more winters or spring storms.

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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.

But the tree was determined to have died previous year, leaving church officials to decide it had to be cut down.

Residents said they were said to see the tree come down but understand why.

Even though the town has known for many months the tree would soon be gone, that doesn't make its coming absence any easier, Malay observed.

Some tree fans visited the tree to say goodbye to their close friend.

Experts say fewer trees are replicating the old oak's 600-year lifespan. At first, officials thought they would be able to simply remove segments of the larger limbs, but the rot was too severe. He says the problem can be mitigated in part if people and communities care for the trees and monitor their health.

Despite the tree's condition, some Bernards, New Jersey, residents were stumped as to why it needed to be removed. A much younger, 25-foot white oak was grown from an acorn that fell from the huge mother tree.