BOISE - After more than 100 years in one spot, Idaho’s largest giant sequoia is settling into its new home.
Because of the major campus expansion project at St. Luke's, the nearly 100-foot tree had to be relocated about two blocks away to city-owned property at Fort Boise Park.
After months of prep work, the 105-year-old tree - which weighs 800,000 pounds - began its slow journey after midnight on Sunday. Workers used a complex conveyor system to tow the tree up a dirt ramp to the edge of Fort Street, then down the road.
While you can walk the route in just a couple minutes, the move took about hours, with the tree creeping along 10 to 12 feet at a time.
Preparations for the tree’s move actually began in October, when the tree’s roots were pruned so it would temporarily stop growing.
This spring, workers built a wire, burlap and wood structure around the base of the tree, along with a steel lattice support system that was inserted underneath for the move.
Then last week, the crew went under the steel structure and inserted giant balloons, 40 feet in length, to lift the tree so the team could lift it out of the hole, before towing it to Fort Boise Park.
Now that the sequoia has been lowered into its new home, and the balloons deflated, crews will spend the next few days leveling the tree, before removing the steel pipes and root barrier. The area around the tree will be backfilled with soil from the original location.
The tree grew from a cutting presented as a gift from conservationist Emile Grandjean to Doctors Fred and Alice Pittenger, who planted the tree next to their home around 1912.
According to the Grandjean family’s oral history accounts, the seedlings came from John Muir in California.