Great oaks from little acorns grow
December 6, 2010
- An old tree comes down, but its heritage lives on
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md - On Saturday, Nov. 27, Aberdeen Proving Ground's Garrison cut down a locally famous black oak tree in the former Maryland Boulevard Picnic Area.
The tree, which was 203 years old, was removed as part of an Enhanced Use Lease development plan for a 417-acre site adjacent to the Maryland Route 715 Gate.
"Needless to say the tree removal was a significant event for many people on- and off- post," said Scott English, APG forester. "The tree had achieved a kind of iconic status in the area and many people were upset over the fact that it was coming down."
A Facebook page and other social media were engaged at various times to voice protest and concern over the tree's removal.
"We were very aware of the concern and interest about the tree and have worked very hard to find ways to extend the tree's beneficial impact on APG and the community," English said.
"Prior to its removal, the garrison collected acorns from this year's crop, in an effort to preserve progeny for use here at APG," English said. "We also are planning on using portions of the trunk for natural resources and environmental education outreach purposes within the local community. Slices, or biscuits, of the trunk will be professionally preserved and shared with local educational forums by APG."
An examination of the tree after it was felled showed that it was not quite as healthy as originally estimated and most likely would not have fared well surrounded by development.
"There was significant internal disease and a sizeable hole extended from the root system up through the entire length of the trunk," English said. "That kind of damage is difficult to assess when the tree is still standing. Just like people, an outer examination can't always tell you what's going on inside the tree."
According to English, the first phase of construction of the current site involves land clearing and preparation including removing approximately 41 acres of forest.
With the exception of that black oak tree, any merchantable timber in those 41 acres will be sold to the EUL lessee (St John Properties) at fair market value and 100 percent of those proceeds will be returned to Army forest management here at APG and at other Army Garrisons around the United States.
"APG is quite proud of its forest heritage," English said. "Since 1917 we have increased the post's forest cover from about 3,000 acres to more than 17,000 acres and in Fiscal year 2010 alone we invested more than a quarter of a million dollars on forest management. Just in the past month or two we have, through forest inventory located four previously unrecorded trees of more than sixty inch diameters. One southern red oak tree in our Edgewood Area is estimated to be more than  years old. We have currently identified at least a dozen large old trees.
"We're very proud of our environmental and conservation work at APG," English said. "While the loss of this tree is traumatic, we are very well focused on accomplishing our many missions, serving the community and protecting and enhancing the environment."
According to English, a few organizations and municipalities have already expressed interest in biscuits. Other interested parties should contact the Garrison Command office at 410-436-9804.
Other portions of the tree are available for woodworking and firewood. Call 410-306-1128 or 410-436-2066 for information regarding purchase permits.
A-A A(R) Acorns have been collected for replanting at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
A-A A(R) Portions of the trunk will be used for environmental education outreach and natural resources.
A-A A(R) Slices or, biscuits, of the trunk will be professionally preserved and shared in local educational forums.