After more than 150 years, two record-size swamp chestnut oak trees were pruned for the first time May 26.
Located next to Huntley Meadows Park, the trees are the largest of their species in Fairfax County. One is designated a "champion," a title awarded by the county Tree Commission to the largest tree of a species. The champion measures 17 feet 6 inches in circumference and is almost 100 feet tall, while the "runner-up" tree is only slightly smaller.
Bartlett Tree Experts and Growing Earth Professional Tree Care performed the pruning. Both companies donated a portion of their time to the effort.
Two nonprofit organizations initiated the project and secured funding through a public-private partnership. With guidance from the county Urban Forestry Division, the Friends of Historic Huntley and Friends of Huntley Meadows won grants from the Virginia Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program. Private monies also were raised by the nonprofits.
In 1973, Fairfax enacted a preservation ordinance to protect trees at construction sites and new developments; the county was one of the first localities in the nation to pass such a law. As a result, trees still cover approximately 45 percent of the county, despite being home to more than 1 million residents.