Monumental effort to relocate Idaho's largest giant sequoia

BOISE - In the City of Trees, one tree in particular stands above the rest. And in the coming weeks, the state's largest giant sequoia will be moved from the spot where it has stood for more than a century.

It's an expensive and complicated endeavor that will take more than two weeks to complete.

The 100-foot tall tree is located near the corner of Jefferson Street and Avenue B, right in the heart of St. Luke's big expansion project.

Instead of chopping the tree down, the hospital decided to relocate it and offer it as a gift to the city and its residents.

The effort to move the tree began last October when crews pruned its roots and installed a barrier to temporarily prevent growth.

This week, workers from Environmental Design Inc. - the country's top large tree mover - started the two-week process of uprooting the tree and moving it to its new home about 250 feet away at Fort Boise Park.

It's a monumental task: This week, crews will build a structure around the base of the tree, and a steel lattice support system will be inserted under the tree. Then crews will excavate under the steel structure and insert large 40-foot long balloons that will eventually be inflated to lift the tree three to six feet, so it can be towed out of the hole.

Once the tree is ready to move, it will inch its way to the edge of Fort Street, then across the street and over to its new pit at the park.

According to St. Luke's, it will take about eight hours for the tree to make the 100-yard journey. 

Once at its new location, the sequoia will be lowered in, the giant balloons deflated and removed, along with the steel pipes and root barrier. The area around the tree will be backfilled with soil from the original location.

Officials say the city arborist helped to determine a location in Fort Boise Park that was best-suited to ensure the health of the tree. The final destination - near the intersection of 1st, Fort and State streets - is the spot most similar to where it has lived for more than 100 years.

The relocation effort should be complete by the end of the month.

Environmental Design will routinely check in and monitor the tree's health over the next five years.

The estimated cost of the relocation project is $300,000. You can follow the tree's progress on social media by using the hashtag #BoiseSequoia.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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