By Diane Hayes, SRT Development Director
(KAWEAH OAKS PRESERVE) - In the last SRT E-News, we wrote about the tree mortality at Kaweah Oaks Preserve. While plans are in the works that we hope will save many of the majestic Valley Oaks there, we had to bid adieu to two important trees this summer.
A pair of Valley Oaks in the picnic area at KOP had to be cut down because they could have been a danger to visitors. These huge trees, one of which served as the unofficial entry to the Children's Trail, were dying quickly, even though just a few months ago an arborist had pronounced them fit. Falling branches could have resulted, some of which could have done real damage. With heavy hearts, we made the decision to have them cut down.
SRT staff did not want to see these trees simply disappear, though, especially after the tree service told us they might be nearly 300 years old. So we looked for a way to keep them alive -- albeit in a new form, and that led to Springville furniture maker B.J. Rummerfield.
Rummerfield agreed to take the tree trunks in exchange for removing them from KOP. He plans to make tables and other items from the trunks once they dry, roughly a yearlong process. He has generously offered two tables to SRT for us to auction at a future event, plus another table or item we can keep at the SRT offices. As each of the trunks weighed more than two tons, there will be plenty of wood for Rummerfield to make into wonderful pieces with an amazing history.
The tables he makes will be approximately 10 feet long and 3 ½ feet wide, perfect for a dining room. We hope to have these tables available for an auction at the 2016 Evening Under the Oaks event, along with other pieces Rummerfield has made, creating a great fundraiser for SRT.
Many other smaller sections of the two trees remain at KOP for the time being. We hope to sell most those pieces to a business or person who could use them for cooking.
These two Valley Oaks provided us with shade and beauty for many years; in their second life, they will be the center of family meals and meetings for two lucky bidders as well as a source of income for SRT. We are most grateful for their service.
In addition to the Children's Trail area, the preserve's Valley Oak and Sycamore Trails have been noticeably hard-hit by drought impacts and upstream diversion. Additional tree removal and trail re-routing may be required, according to Ann Huber, SRT Director of Stewardship.