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Preserving a “Best In City” Scarlet Oak

SDOT’s Urban Forestry tree crew has begun work to preserve an enormous scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) in the Wedgwood neighborhood in north Seattle. This huge tree is one of a handful of trees in the right of way designated as a Heritage Tree.  The Heritage Tree Program is a partnership between the City and PlantAmnesty to recognize outstanding trees based upon the following characteristics:

Specimen: A tree of exceptional size, form, or rarity.
Historic: A tree recognized by virtue of its age, its association with a historic structure or district, or with a noted person or historic event.
Landmark: Trees that are landmarks of a community.
Collection: Trees in a notable grove, avenue, or other planting.

Not only is this scarlet oak a Heritage Tree but this specific tree is also classified as “Best in City” and was featured in an online article in Wedgwood in Seattle History.

Oak tree

The scarlet oak at 38th Ave NE and NE 77th St in north Seattle.

In April, SDOT was made aware that the trunk of this tree sustained a crack in it, likely during the windstorm in mid-March. SDOT decided to take this extraordinary approach to help demonstrate that preserving large trees is the most important management strategy to meeting our tree canopy goals.

Urban Forestry Manager Darren Morgan says this tree provides tremendous benefits to the community every year and is an icon in the neighborhood.  During the work planning process, several neighbors approached the SDOT team to share their thanks for the tree preservation efforts.

Crew with oak tree

SDOT Tree Crew Supervisor Joe Markovich oversaw installation.

SDOT Urban Forestry will be installing a cabling and bracing system including hard-to-source materials from Seattle City Light’s warehouse. Portions of the system are rated at 54,000 lbs. tensile strength in order to provide significant reduction in risk. SDOT is committed to performing an annual inspection of the cabling system and will make adjustments to the system and/or the tree as needed to ensure the system continues to provide the intended benefit.  SDOT estimates that the system could add 10 years or more to the life of this otherwise healthy and vigorous tree.

The mission of SDOT’S Urban Forestry division is to administer, maintain, protect, and expand the City’s urban landscape in street right-of-ways for Seattle residents and businesses so that economic, environmental, safety and aesthetic benefits are maximized. For more information about Urban Forestry, check out their webpage here.