SOUNDOFF: Oak deserves every effort

I was overjoyed and filled with relief when I was informed of the city council’s decision to postpone the cutting and carving of the Oak Harbor Post Office Garry oak tree. I hope the new information regarding the restoring the health of the tree may lead to the permanent protection of this ancient tree.

Many thanks to the city council for this wise decision concerning the Garry oak at the post office. Also, I wish to extend special thanks to the leaders of this movement to save the tree; Sheila Crider, Helen Chatfield-Weeks, and Melissa Duffy. Also thank you to the many others who spent countless hours researching and informing the public.

My family has admired and loved this magnificent oak tree for many generations. My grandmother, Sheila Barrington, born in 1867 the youngest daughter of Christina McCrohan and Capt. Edward Barrington, loved this tree and considered the post office Garry oak “her tree” for this tree was growing on land that was owned by her father. Grandmother Sibbie told me that in the 1870’s and 80’s she and the other Oak Harbor children walked to and from the school house on Freund’s Hill right by this oak and it was a big tree even then. When the school children were walking home on warm afternoons they would stop, rest, talk and play under the big oak’s cool shade.

Non-caring, non-thinking people have unknowingly been trying to kill the big oak tree for the past 20 or 30 years by covering cement and asphalt from the trunk to well beyond the drip line. This process of cutting off the tree’s supply of life-giving rain and moisture is strangling the tree.With the tree’s supply of moisture nearly eliminated the tree’s roots have had difficulty in drawing plant nutrients from the soil and trans-locating them to the leaves. This Garry oak should have died, but has been fighting courageously to stay alive. The oak produces a new crop of leaves every year, but has no blossoms or acorns because it simply can’t get enough moisture or fertility to do so.

This problem, of tree destruction, can easily be corrected by peeling back the concrete and asphalt to beyond the dripline; giving the tree new soil; and fertilizing and irrigating with plenty of fresh water. The big ancient tree’s response will be amazing.

It would not only sprout a new crop of healthy leaves, blossoms and acorns, but would sprout new shoots and stems to fill in open and bare areas.

It has been reported that the tree is suffering from decay in the root system, though the root system must be in pretty good condition to keep the tree alive under acres of concrete and asphalt.

Expert arborists have ways of cutting out lesions of decay in root and tree trunks, and replacing them with fungicidal materials that will stop further decay. This process will also promote new growth of wood and bark to heal any wounds made during the corrective surgery.

The big Garry oak tree is still alive and can definitely be brought back to good health and be saved. The tree has suffered enough and should be given the tender loving care it deserves.

The money that was to be spent cutting down and whittling the tree into a grotesque statue should be redirected, now, toward correcting the mistakes of the past and bringing the tree back to its former condition of glory and splendor.

If this positive action is done now the great Garry oak tree may live on for generations or even centuries more for children, yet unborn, to sit under, love and enjoy.

Earle Darst lives in San de Fuca.

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