Washington Residents Battle City to Keep 400-Year-Old Oak Tree Standing

The Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree is set to be removed due to safety concerns

<p>Google Maps</p> Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree

Google Maps

Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree

Residents in the City of Tumwater, Wash., are banding together for the sake of a 400-year-old oak tree that is in jeopardy of being cut down – but they are facing intense pushback from city officials in the process.

Despite being on the historical registry, the Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree is set to be removed due to safety concerns at the authorization of Tumwater Mayor Debbie Sullivan, according to local NBC affiliate KING-TV. “I would be putting public safety at risk. I’m not willing to do that,” Sullivan said.

Last year, a 10-foot branch fell off the tree about 50 feet, which prompted Sullivan to hire a team of arborists to investigate the health, KING-TV said. They then determined the removal of the tree was necessary to protect the public.

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However, in a last-minute turn of events, residents of Tumwater who wanted to preserve the historic tree were given great news, albeit temporary, that the tree could remain standing due to a judge’s order.

<p>Google Maps</p> Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree

Google Maps

Davis Meeker Garry Oak Tree

Per The Chronicle, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Sharonda Amamilo issued a temporary restraining order on May 24 preventing the city from chopping down the tree. The restraining order was obtained by the Save The Davis Meeker Garry Oak group, which alleged that city officials applied “use of city power to destroy the historic tree.”

The group’s attorney, Ronda Larson Kramer, spoke about the ruling, telling The Chronicle, "Tumwater's mayor spearheaded the misuse of a city code designed to protect historic structures and essentially turned the code on its head to claim it allows the cutting down of this historic tree without a permit.”

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The battle doesn’t end there, as Larson also revealed that the city has pushed back against the recent ruling. “The city has now filed a motion to vacate the judge's protection, ignoring the wishes of the citizens and the earlier decision by their own Historic Preservation Commission to retain the tree,” she said.

In response to the temporary court victory, residents recently held a celebration for the tree’s legacy where they gathered with food, music and information about the tree in an effort to rally community members and push their efforts forward.

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