Locals rally to save white oak tree

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp. —  Several residents along the 10000 block of Ridge Road have expressed concern over upcoming county road work that includes the removal of several trees, including a century old white oak tree.
“The tree is not dying, it’s just very old,” said Dawn Robb, a Ridge Road resident. “We’d like the beautiful white oak to be saved if possible. They are planning on cutting this tree down to help the township with expenses even though it is on the other side of the wide ditch in our front yard. It’s not near the roadway at all.”
Eric Johnston, PE, is the engineering director for the Genesee County Road Commission.
“The trees marked along Ridge Road are for immediate removal,” said Johnston. “The removal is not only for ditching but, it also allows sunlight on the (gravel) roadway to dry it out faster.”
A topographic survey is currently being completed to determine the exact right-of-way along Ridge Road, he said.
“The trees adjacent to the roadway go first,” he said. “Many gravel roads have not been worked on in many years and the right-of-way has a tendency to wander. There’s also a safety issue with the trees over the roadway.”
A truck passing under the old white oak recently hit a branch.
Mike Kengerski, owner of The Tree Barber, of Ortonville, a certified arborist for the past 20 years, says preservation should be a consideration.
“Due to its strength and moisture impermeable characteristics, the white oak is in every facet superior to all other oaks,” said Kengerski. “Once the dominant tree, now quickly being replaced by faster growing less useful species.”
“Only in recent years has groups like the ‘White Oak Initiative’ brought attention to the decline of the iconic and mighty white oak.”
“In regard to the landmark tree(s) located on Ridge Road the aesthetic beauty and magnificence is on display for all to enjoy.,” he said.
“This particular 60 inch diameter specimen with its beautiful scaffolding branches appears to be healthy and although hard to estimated its age due to environmental conditions is probably between 150-300 years old. These large specimens are becoming more and more rare with each passing year.”

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