A 170-year-old black willow tree in Dallas was cut down last week. The city says it was an accident.
The tree at Stone Tables at White Rock Lake Park was removed and grinded on Friday.
City staff learned the news on Monday.
The tree was on the state registry of champion trees. But it hadn’t been doing well due to its age and wind damage, city officials say.
A city contractor was removing several tree stumps authorized by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. It also removed the black willow tree – but without city authorization.
“The grinding of stumps is necessary to ensure the safety of park patrons and is outsourced by DPR to a contractor who performs authorized maintenance,” the city said in a statement.
“The city intends to seek remediation from the contractor, and to prevent this type of occurrence from happening in the future, the department is implementing additional controls for the work performed by the contractor,” the statement says.
In the future, a contractor will get written permission from the park department for the removal of stumps more than 24 inches in height not already on a stump removal list.
“This new procedure will enable better on-site communication between DPR and the contractor to avoid another unfortunate incident like this in the future,” the city says.
The once mighty tree had been decaying and was about 8 feet tall when it was removed. The Dallas Morning News reports:
Measurements confirmed the massive landmark — 47 feet high with a trunk girth of 265 inches and an estimated 170 years old — was indeed the largest of its kind recorded in Texas. The state champion. ...
Furious storms and continuing decay further weakened the tree and reduced its championship size to a roughly 8-foot-tall trunk.
On Wednesday, Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston posted on his Facebook page: "The lake is a precious resource, and it needs protection. Contractors, staff, park board members, and council members who don't understand that should not be entrusted with its care.
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) February 4, 2015
White Rock Lake photo credit: Rachel Knickmeyer/Flickr