Photo: Steve Thurston
It might be just a little hotter on the second floor of Kelly Young’s house. It is definitely hotter outside, she said.
Until June 29, when the derecho came in and toppled a championship tree on the 5800 block of N. 11th Street, the branches of that post oak covered Young’s yard and shaded her roof. Yesterday, the county removed what was left of the tree.
The county owned the tree that somehow survived between the sidewalk and road. County experts estimated the tree was old enough that George Washington could have seen it as a sapling.
“I’m not worked up about it coming down,” Young said outside her house yesterday. The county told her there was a safety issue, and there was little left of the tree, anyway. Neighbors said they had heard others complain about the planned removal and feared they might see some demonstrating, but that did not occur.
When it fell two Fridays ago, it damaged a neighbor’s house and blocked the road.
“It just kind of met its time,” said Tracey Jolley, another neighbor. “It was a beautiful tree. A lot of people used it for photos ops.”
Both Jolley and Young have pictures of their kids with the tree. Many neighbors did the same, they said.
Although they knew it was a special tree--and Young was told when she bought the house that she could not touch it without county permission--they did not really know what a special tree they had until they saw a story in the Washington Post last week.
Other people knew what a tree they had. It was the largest post oak in the state, and among the largest in the country.
Alonso Abugattas, the natural resource manager for the county and a champion tree steward, said his office has gotten many requests for pieces of the tree.
“I personally received six different emails,” Abugattas said in a phone interview yesterday. “Obviously, there were other inquiries [to other county employees] as well.”
Parks, nature centers, environmental groups and even artists have asked for pieces of the tree.
Someone identifying himself with NASA took a piece of the tree, Young said. The county told her she could not have a piece because “five million people will want a piece of this tree,” she was told.
She would not identify who she spoke with at the county. Abugattas did not speak with her, he said. She did say that the person she spoke with was not happy to hear that NASA apparently had taken some.
The county took various samples of the tree to an undisclosed location yesterday. The county is still very much in the clean-up phase of the derecho storm, but when that has calmed down a little, in the next week or so, they will decide who gets what, Abugattas said. (There is still a chance for Young, apparently.)
“We have not distributed anything to anyone yet,” Abugattas said.