WESTERN STATES HELPS OUT AN OLD TREE

It isn’t every day we get to participate in the preservation of our history and culture, but in late June Western States’ Meridian store got just such a chance.

The story begins in about 1912, when famed naturalist John Muir sent a tiny Sequoia seedling to Emile Grandjean, a conservationist and one of Idaho’s first forest rangers. Mr. Grandjean then gifted the seedling to Doctors Fred and Alice Pittenger, who planted it on their property near the current location of St. Luke’s Hospital in downtown Boise. The little sprout took root.

Fast forward 105 years, and the young seedling had become a 100 foot tall, 800,000 pound brute of a redwood, and a cultural icon in the City of Trees. But the property on which it stood was now the proposed location of an expansion of St. Luke’s. Rather than remove and kill the tree, St. Luke’s elected to gift the tree to the City of Boise, and move it 250 feet northwest of its original home.

Enter Environmental Design, one of the country’s top tree movers. St. Luke’s contracted the Huston, Texas tree-moving firm to safely relocate the tree. Environmental Design then partnered with Western States, renting excavators, a wheel loader and a skid steer to assist with the move.

After pruning the tree’s roots, Environmental Design used a giant steel lattice and massive, pontoon-shaped balloons – the kind that are used to move ships from dry dock into water – to lift the tree from its original location. Then beginning at midnight the morning of June 25, Fort Street was closed and the tree was slowly rolled along on the giant balloons – towed by a 329E and a 336E – to a location two blocks away where a new home had been prepared for it. The move took 10 hours.

The tree now resides at the northeast corner of Fort Street and 1st Street in Fort Boise Park, just west of Boise Little Theater, where it could live hundreds of years more.

More photos and a time-lapse video of the move can be seen here.