On the move: Large Idaho sequoia tree finds new home
The Associated Press First Published Jun 25 2017
Workers build a burlap, plywood and steel-pipe structure to contain the rootball so they can move the roughly 100-foot sequoia tree in Boise, Idaho, Thursday, June 22, 2017. The sequoia tree sent more than a century ago by naturalist John Muir to Idaho and planted in a Boise medical doctor's yard has become an obstacle to progress. So the 98-foot (30-meter) sequoia planted in 1912 and that's in the way of a Boise hospital's expansion is being uprooted and moved about a block to city property this weekend. (AP Photo/Rebeca Boone)
Boise, Idaho • A large sequoia tree with a history rooted in conservation was standing in the way of progress.
More than a century after it was planted as a sapling in a doctor's yard in Boise, Idaho, the 10-story tree is on the move, shifting across the street to make way for a hospital expansion. The tree is expected to reach its new turf Sunday. Here are some things to know about it and its trip months in the making.
WHAT'S THE TREE'S STORY?
More than 100 years ago naturalist John Muir sent four sequoia seedlings to Emile Grandjean, a conservation-minded professional forester and early employee of the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho. Of the four sequoias from Muir's seedlings, the only one that still exists is the one being moved. St. Luke's Health System is spending $300,000 to move the 98-foot (30-meter) tree to city property about two blocks away. "We understand the importance of this tree to this community," said Anita Kissée, spokeswoman for the hospital. Cutting it down "was never even an option."
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT SEQUOIAS?
Sequoias in their native habitat in California draw moisture from the misty atmosphere and can live for several thousand years and reach several hundred feet tall. The Idaho sequoia is in a drier, colder climate, and the tree lost its original top in the 1980s due to damage from Christmas decorations. The hospital at that point hired tree experts and the sequoia has since thrived.
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?
Christian Schaffeld lives near the tree, which he loves. But he also has a personal connection to the hospital that's seeking more space. "I grew up here in Boise. ... I plant a lot of trees in my backyard — about 200 of them, right up the street — and I am amazed: That's the biggest tree I've ever seen ever picked up and transplanted. It's amazing that they're doing this. It's a service to the City of Trees that kind of epitomizes Boise."
HOW CHALLENGING IS THE MOVE?
Tree mover David Cox says the sequoia will be the tallest tree his company, Environmental Design, has ever moved as well as having the greatest circumference at more than 20 feet (6 meters) around near its base. Cox said soil analysis was been done at the transplant site to ensure it will allow the tree to keep growing. He said most of the soil surrounding the tree's roots also is being moved to improve the chances of the transplant succeeding. If it works, the tree could remain a Boise landmark for several more centuries. Cox says there's a 95 percent chance the tree will survive.