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The State of NoVa
Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 07/09/2012

Arlington’s old post oak comes down

An arborist takes down the remains of the 250-year-old post oak in Arlington, limb by limb. (Patricia Sullivan - The Washington Post)
In light of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost power, phone service and access to 911 last week, the death of an old tree ranks low on the list of problems from the June 29 derecho storm.

A cross section of one limb. (Patricia Sullivan - The Washington Post)
And yet, residents of this historically and environmentally minded area grieved when Arlington County’s oldest tree, a 250-year-old post oak, split and fell during the storm. It was fully taken down this morning under the watchful eye of Arlington County Parks and Recreation.

The wood itself was remarkably heavy and dense because the tree grows so slowly, said Vincent Verweij, an Arlington urban forester. It took the biggest front-end loader available to lift a portion of the trunk off the ground.
Arlington County Parks and Natural Resources employee Vincent Verweij with a post oak leaf in Arlington. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)

Part of the wood will go to the parks department, where Verweij and others will get a better measurement of its age and condition. Some portions of the tree will also be saved for research and display purposes.

A number of residents have also asked about getting mementoes from the tree, including a bench for the neighborhood. Environmentists, neighbors, local artists and craftsmen “came out of the woodwork,” said Alonso Abugattas, natural resource manager, and a number of pieces have been set aside.

It was one of about 230 trees in Arlington lost during the storm. The winds also felled three of the oldest trees in Arlington Cemetery, which were among the 25 toppled there.

Trees have a limited lifespan, although this one exceeded others of its type by more than a century.

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Categories:  Arlington County

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