110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Oct 2, 2013 - 3:33:27pm
A centuries-old live oak that once shaded the median of U.S. Highway 17-92 south of DeLand is gone.
The tree in front of Burger King was killed by lightning in early August, and the carcass was sawed down and hauled away Sept. 29 by a contractor for the Florida Department of Transportation, before the dying limbs and branches could begin falling on passing cars.
Arborist Don Spence, owner of Native Florida Landscapes in Ormond Beach, who has a Ph.D. in plant pathology, estimated the oak was 200-300 years old. The lightning shock traveled down all its major limbs, killing it within a week, Spence said. He said the tree might have eventually sprouted back, but very slowly, and would never have achieved its former glory.
USA Services used bucket trucks, dumpsters and a crew to remove the tree.
Florida DOT biologist Steve Tonjes, a member of the DeLand Planning Board, said contractor USA Services removed the tree on a Sunday when traffic was minimal. The DOT provided traffic control while the five-hour job was under way.
"It was a top-to-bottom, outside-in job, basically," the DOT's Rick Snow said.
According to Snow, a couple of pieces of wood went to the West Volusia Historical Society, whose members will try to pinpoint the exact age of the tree. The souvenirs will also be displayed at the group's DeLand headquarters as a memento.
The rest of the tree was loaded into six 30-yard trash containers and hauled to Gel Corp. in Orange City.
Tonjes said a few inquiries were made at Stetson University to see if anybody wanted a piece of the tree, but there seemed to be no interest.
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