Historic tree at Jack London State Park gets reprieve

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Historic tree at Jack London State Park gets reprieve
EMBED <>More Videos

A historic oak tree at Jack London's State Park is getting reprieve after officials worked to prevent it from getting cut down. A seedling from the tree will be planted nearby.

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- A historic oak tree at Jack London's State Park is getting reprieve after officials worked to prevent it from getting cut down. Last year ABC7 News reported how an old oak threatened a national monument in Sonoma County.

It was a sad story because the tree is a treasure itself. It isn't just any oak tree and not only because its been around for 350 years. "It's called the witness tree. It has seen so much history,"park operations manager Pat Stevens said.

The five years the tree shared with Jack London who lived in a house nearby make it a treasure.

"He was the first American writer to make a $1 million," state park archaeologist Breck Parkman said.

London's home in Sonoma County is now a state park. The study in which he wrote 10 of his 60 books and plays is preserved and the tree was a part of all of that.

No one knows for sure, but the thought is that London would sit in his office, look out the window, see the tree and be inspired. "I would have been inspired if I was Jack London with this tree in my backyard," Parkman said.

Though lately the tree has been a cause of worry for Parkman. In old age it has become weakened, unbalanced, diseased and a threat to the house.

By last year, Stevens was one of many who deemed that the stately oak would need to come down. "It was a threat to visitors of the park, he said"

Now, the state has announced a reprieve. They have studied the tree, pruned it and bought maybe 10 years.

Better yet, there is a seedling for planting nearby next month. For a wise, experienced oak tree with little time left, it's the best possible future.

"A bridge, a bridge. This tree carries the DNA of the mother tree and the mother tree was family of Jack London," Parkman said.

In a state park dedicated to a great writer, that's a tribute.