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Saturday - March 14, 2015

From: New Orleans, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Saving a 350-year old Live Oak
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in Jefferson Parish outside New Orleans. I have a large Live Oak tree that is over 350 years old and has been damaged by Katrina. I have contacted one arborist and they said that the tree is starting to decline and would probably die soon (relatively). Another gave me an estimate that was quite astounding. Also, the neighborhood has grown up around this tree, crowding it, in the last 50 years and that is not helping the situation either. Though I won't see the tree die, I would like to try and do something with it. The arborists in this area do not have the best reputations. Many appeared with Katrina and still have not left. I contacted the government in Baton Rouge to try and get a recommendation. They sent me and mimeographed list and an "off you go"... Do you know of any person or organization who would be willing to help us try to save this tree? We are not totally lacking in resources but we would really like to make them count. (I can provide images of the tree. It has been in the newspaper a couple of times because of the estimated age.)

ANSWER:

There is information online that I wanted to share with you about a Historic Tree Preservation Workshop that was held in 2010.  The presenters all look to be quite knowledgeable and dedicated to preserving historic trees. Perhaps you might find some helpful advice amongst this group.

Here is the information about some of the presenters...

Guy Meilleur is a consulting arborist with 45 years of experience in managing and caring for trees.  He is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Board-Certified Master Arborist, and an ISA Certified Arborist – Municipal Specialist, and Utility Specialist.  He has served as an instructor and guest lecturer at Duke University, North Carolina State University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  Guy regularly published articles about tree assessment, tree care, restoring trees, and managing tree damage and decay in Arborist News, Arbor Age, Tree Care Industry, and The Arboricultural Consultant. He is a frequent presenter at national conferences and leads trainings for groups across the country.  His company, Historic Tree Care, applies traditional and cutting-edge methods to conserve significant trees on public and private sites.

Visit his website for articles on historic tree care issues and procedures at www.historictreecare.com

Jeff Kirwan is Emeritus Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Forestry at Virginia Tech. He is co-author of the award-winning Remarkable Trees of Virginia which celebrates Virginia’s oldest, biggest, most historic trees. He is advisor to the Virginia Project Learning Tree and Master Naturalist Programs. His research interests focus on indigenous ecology and cultural landscapes. Jeff is a tree farmer and a member of the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians on his native Eastern Shore of Maryland.  He and his wife, Judy, live in Blacksburg.

Contact information is available at the Virginia Tech Faculty website page.

http://frec.vt.edu/people/faculty/faculty_folder/jkirwan.html

Kevin T. Smith leads a research work unit for the US Forest Service that investigates the role of stress and disease on forest health and productivity.  His personal research centers on the effects of environmental disturbance and injury on tree biology, especially growth and decay. Part of this research involves understanding how trees survive, grow, and die in the stressful urban environment. He investigates natural wounding from branch shedding, fire, and storms as well as mechanical damage from arboricultural practices. He also examines the role of wood decay in soil formation and forest fertility. His research methods include dendrochronology, forest pathology, and biological chemistry. He is frequently invited to present these themes to arboricultural and land management groups and has authored more than 80 publications in scientific journals and green industry magazines.

Contact information for Kevin T. Smith is available at the USDA Forestry Service website.

http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/people/ktsmith

Dan McCarthy is a Preservation Arborist of the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, the cultural landscape program in the Northeast Region of the National Park Service.  In this capacity, Dan provides technical assistance on cultural landscape issues in regards to tree care; performs comprehensive condition assessments of landscape features; manages, organizes and coordinates tree-related field projects that promote the stabilization and preservation of important landscapes; and coordinates arboricultural education and safety training programs for National Park Service staff.  His work has included preservation maintenance field projects at over 45 National Parks in 17 states, and is credited with training 32 NPS staff to become certified arborists. Dan is a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). He has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his initiatives and accomplishments in cultural landscape preservation and safety, including an award for Professional Excellence in Cultural Resource Management in 2003 and the Andrew Clark Hecht Memorial Public Safety Achievement Award in 2008.

Contact information for Dan McCarthy  Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation website.
http://www.nps.gov/oclp/contacts.htm

And lastly, there is a Live Oak Society in Louisiana. The Live Oak Society (LOS) was founded in 1934 by Dr. Edwin Lewis Stephens, the first president of Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana in Lafayette). The Society promotes the culture, distribution, preservation and appreciation of the live oak tree, scientifically known as Quercus virginiana.

The Live Oak Society began with 43 members chosen by Dr. Stephens and now boasts 7633 members in 14 states and is under the auspices of the Louisiana Garden Club Federation, Inc.
The first president was "The Locke Breaux Oak" in Taft, Louisiana, who lost its life in 1968 due to air and ground water pollution. Its successor and current president is the "Seven Sisters Oak", formerly known as "Doby's Seven Sisters". The owner who first named the tree was Carole Hendry Doby, who was one of seven sisters. "Seven Sisters Oak" is located in the Lewisburg area of Mandeville, Louisiana on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Estimated by foresters to be 1200 years old, this tree has a girth of over 38 feet.

http://www.lgcfinc.org/live-oak-society.html

Contact information for Coleen Perilloux Landry, Chairperson is available on the Live Oak Society website.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

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