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Old Glory still glorious

Environment: Fence surrounding world-record-holding oak to be removed soon

Posted: April 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Dennis Farragher, of Stevenson Ranch, and Moose, a 2-year-old black Labrador, walk past the Old Glory oak tree as they take their daily walk at Pico Canyon Park in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday. The fence surrounding the tree should come down within the next 45 days, officials say. Dennis Farragher, of Stevenson Ranch, and Moose, a 2-year-old black Labrador, walk past the Old Glory oak tree as they take their daily walk at Pico Canyon Park in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday. The fence surrounding the tree should come down within the next 45 days, officials say.
Dennis Farragher, of Stevenson Ranch, and Moose, a 2-year-old black Labrador, walk past the Old Glory oak tree as they take their daily walk at Pico Canyon Park in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday. The fence surrounding the tree should come down within the next 45 days, officials say.
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Santa Clarita’s famous oak tree, Old Glory remains in good health seven years after its quarter-mile move.

Old Glory was moved to Pico Canyon County Park in 2004 to be protected from a road project in Stevenson Ranch.

The chainlink fence that has surrounded the tree since the move is scheduled to be removed within the next month and a half, officials said Monday.

The 58-foot-tall, nearly 416-ton tree caught the national media spotlight in 2002 when an environmentalist camped in its branches for 71 days, trying to save it from being chopped down in a road-widening project on Pico Canyon Road.

The oak was moved to the park in 2004.

In 2007, Guinness World Records certified Old Glory as the largest tree in the world to be transplanted.

“Usually it takes six to seven years to be able to tell whether the tree transplanting was successful or not,” said Maeve McConnell, Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department spokesman. “For Old Glory, it was seven years in January, and the tree has been doing very well.”

The department received the latest report on the oak’s health condition on March 3.

Certified Arborist Jose Mercado wrote in the report that the fence surrounding the tree could be removed. Mercado recommends installing a more permanent fence around the trunk of the tree to discourage any climbing on the old oak.

McConnell said the fence removal is one of the priority projects for the department.

However, she said, due to the large number of spring projects, it might take 30 to 40 days for the construction division to complete the task.

“The tree is doing fantastic,” said John Mote, president of Senna Tree Co., the contractor that performed the transplanting and is now responsible for the tree’s maintenance.

“It’s doing just as good as it is expected of a tree of that age,” he said.

Mote said the oak is 180 to 220 years old and that it probably reached its growing peak 20 years ago.

He explained that a tree’s life is like a bell curve. Its decline until its death usually lasts about the same amount of years as its growing period.

“I’m 52 years old, and I’m sure (Old Glory) will outlive me,” Mote said.

By removing the fence, Parks and Recreation officials hope to make the tree more available for public enjoyment. They plan to install a park bench close to the oak.

In 2004, Old Glory became a symbol of the battle between environmentalists and developers. The public remains concerned about its health, McConnell said.

“We’re going to do anything it takes to protect it,” McConnell said.

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