Beloved 600-year-old white oak tree takes final bow

The removal work drew lots of attention from residents of a bedroom community about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of NY and other tree fans who saw it as a chance to bid a final farewell to their close friend.

A 600-year-old white oak that sits on the grounds of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards is scheduled to be cut down Monday morning.

The tree's pending removal is a reminder of how older trees are starting to become less common across the nation. Last summer, however, the massive oak was declared dead.

A huge yellow crane was seen towering over the tree as a helmat-clad worker moved about its centuries-old limbs. Crews are due Monday at the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards to begin removing the tree. It's served as a scenic backdrop for photographs and was the site of a picnic Gen. George Washington held with the Marquis de Lafayette.

A 16-year-old oak grown from the tree's acorns is also growing at the north end of the church.

The 600-year-old White Oak that has stood in Bernard, New Jersey since long before the US was formed is now being cut down.

The tree stood at 100-feet over a gravesite at a Presbyterian Church on Oak Street.

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Arborists determined it would not withstand many more winters or spring storms.

The tree's circumference was 18 feet and it had a branch spread of about 150 feet.

But the tree was determined to have died a year ago, leaving church officials to decide it had to be cut down.

'It has been an integral part of the town, that's for sure, ' said Jon Klippel, a member of the church's planning council.

Even though the town has known for many months the tree would soon be gone, that doesn't make its coming absence any easier, Malay observed.

"It is emotional", resident Glads Perez told News 12 New Jersey. "We've been blessed to have it here".

"Everybody that has ever lived here has recognized that tree as sort of a symbol of home", parishioner John Klippel said last fall. They note that several factors - including droughts, intensive wildfires and invasive insects - that can greatly harm trees, which become more susceptible to damage as they age. A much younger, 25-foot white oak was grown from an acorn that fell from the very big mother tree.

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