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More than 200-year-old sugar maple ‘witness tree’ felled

August 11, 2012
The Associated Press

RAPID RIVER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Parts of a more than 200-year-old sugar maple that was cut down in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula will become part of a history display, the state said Wednesday.

The tree in Kalkaska County's Rapid River Township was an original "witness tree" from the 1850 resurvey of northern Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Such trees serve as reference points, or accessories, used in rural areas to locate land corners in surveying.

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Michigan Department of Natural Resources forest fire officer Steve Cameron uses a chain saw to cut the base of the witness tree in Kalkaska County on Tuesday of last week. The tree, which died last year, is believed to be an original witness tree used in the 1850 resurvey of northern Michigan, according to the DNR. (AP?photo)

"There are very few of these original witness trees left in Michigan today," Jerry Grieve, a land use forester with the DNR's Forest Resources Division, said in a statement. "A lot of people have put a lot of care into the salvage effort of this significant tree. We're very fortunate that its importance won't be lost simply because it's no longer in the forest."

The tree died last year and was felled last Tuesday. The DNR, members of the Northern Chapter of the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors, Great Lakes Energy and a Trees Inc. crew worked on the effort. They took steps to cut closer to its base to salvage as much of the tree as possible.

The tree was originally marked by a U.S. government surveyor on Sept. 26, 1850. The tree was 10 inches in diameter at the time, and was 36 inches in diameter when it was cut down.

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Portions of the tree, which stood about 20 miles east of Traverse City, are being preserved for display at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling and the display may also rotate to other state parks. Michigan State University's Department of Forestry also has expressed interest in getting cuts of the tree for its own exhibit.



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