The tree was removed on Wednesday, July 15th.
Pay your last respects to the Van Ness “warrior tree.” The oak tree has stood guard over Connecticut Avenue at Windom Place for decades. But the people who watch out for the District’s street trees believe it has become a threat to the many pedestrians and motorists who pass by the intersection every day. And the tree is set for removal by the end of this month.
Not even the experts at the Urban Forestry division of the DC Department of Transportation could figure out how this impressive oak grew to be so large. The conditions are less than ideal. Its tree box is situated on a small pedestrian island. It is surrounded on all sides by concrete and asphalt. It is bombarded by vehicle fumes.
An ANC 3F committee created in 2013 to advance Van Ness streetscape and revitalization plans took to calling it the “warrior tree.”
Urban Forestry has also had its eye on this tree for some time. It noticed the first signs of signs of trouble – exit holes created by bark beetles – in 2012. In 2014, the DDOT foresters took note of dead branches and peeling bark. But the tree was still structurally sound.
Their assessment changed in 2019. Urban Forestry supervisor Munevver “Vera” Ertem told Van Ness Main Street in an email that the internal decay had advanced to the point that there was almost no solid wood at the base. And given its location at a busy pedestrian and vehicle intersection, it had become necessary to remove it.
“We are deeply saddened and understand the heartache it will cause to everyone,” Ertem said in the 2019 email. “We know how everyone loved it.”
Ertem told Forest Hills Connection last week that Adirondack Tree Experts has the contract and will likely do the work within the next couple of weeks. Once that is done, the tree box will be prepared with new and better soil, to ensure the survival of a new tree that will be planted during the October-April planting season.
And in another generation or two, perhaps another warrior will rise.