- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Crews are working to remove Idaho’s largest sequoia tree from where it sits next to a hospital because of construction.

On Wednesday, a crew from Environmental Design Inc., a company whose expertise is moving large trees, began work to move the 104-year-old tree from its place next to St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center to a new site at Fort Boise Park, The Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/2dqmCsV ). The tree won’t be physically moved until the spring, but work needs to be done to make sure the tree remains healthy.

In order to move the tree, which stands 98 feet tall and is more than 20 feet around, crews will dig a trench around the sequoia and prune its roots to a 20- to 25-foot radius. A special watering plan will help heal the roots before the tree is actually moved.

David Cox, co-founder of Environmental Design, said the company has developed a technique to move the tree that involves building a steel platform under the tree once its roots are contained, then using inflatable tubes “like giant hot dogs” to help roll the tree over to its new home. Cox said he expects the move to take about two days.

Environmental Design will maintain the tree and help it get re-established in its new location until 2022.

The hospital will pay around $300,000 to move and care for the tree.

The tree is known as the Pittenger sequoia because its location was once the estate of Fred and Alice Pittenger. It became a holiday attraction in the 1980s after St. Luke’s began decorating it with thousands of Christmas lights. This practice has since stopped, after the tree was damaged by the decorations.

The tree is also remarkable as it is one of the few sequoia trees in the area. The trees are more commonly found in Northern California. The Statesman has included St. Luke’s tree on its list of 150 Boise Icons.

Once the tree is moved, it will become city property.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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