The owners of one of Athens' most famous trees cut it down earlier this week after the Athens-Clarke County community forester noticed it was dying.
The white oak on Old Jefferson Road, once owned by longtime tree advocate Mary Anne Hodgson, was at least 200-250 years old and was the second-largest white oak in the state.
ACC Community Forester and Environmental Coordinator Andrew Saunders said he rode by the tree recently and saw vertical cracks in the trunk. The tree had simply grown too big. "That is a sign of the tree literally pulling itself apart," he said.
On further inspection, Saunders found that the tree had been wounded somehow about 30 or 40 years ago and hadn't been able to compartmentalize the damage. Two-thirds of the tree had decayed, leaving it hollow inside with only the new growth since the injury remaining.
Saunders said he "agonized" over the decision, but after consulting with three other arborists, all four recommended that Hodgson family cut the tree down.
Saunders blogged about the tree at the Community Tree Council website.