110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Aug 22, 2013 - 10:16:51am
A live oak that has long graced the median of Woodland Boulevard at DeLand's southern gateway has fallen victim to lightning.
Between Aug. 5 and Aug. 8, a powerful bolt struck the tree that stands just south of the Taylor Road intersection, in front of Burger King. The leaves are now rapidly turning brown.
"It was a gorgeous, magnificent tree that everyone sees when coming into town," Steve Tonjes, a member of the DeLand Planning Board and a biologist with the Florida Department of Transportation, said.
Tonjes remembers the great lengths the DOT went to save the tree during several road projects, the most recent in 2008. That's when the department built a drain field under a turn lane to save the tree by giving its roots access to air and water.
However, the DOT couldn't save the centuries-old oak from "an act of God," Tonjes said.
Don Spence, owner of Native Florida Landscape and a certified arborist with a Ph.D. in plant pathology, said the tree is likely between 200 and 300 years old. The lightning struck the tree down all its major limbs, effectively killing it within a week.
Spence said if the tree were left on its own, new growth would eventually sprout, but the dying limbs and branches would fall and pose a danger to traffic.
"It would never recover in our lifetime into the tree we once saw there," Spence said.
In his report to the Florida Department of Transportation, Spence strongly urged that the agency remove the tree as soon as possible.
DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus reported to the DeLand City Commission Aug. 19 that the tree will be gone within two weeks.
"The tree is toast," Pleus said.
Pleus suggested offering bits and pieces of the wood to members of the community who wish to remember the tree.
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