Geneva continues its efforts to save historic landmark

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GENEVA, Ala. (WTVY) -- Geneva's famous oak tree at Robert Fowler Park is a landmark in the community

In recent weeks, the popular site has led to concern in the community after a limb on the tree began to crack.

Friday morning, a resistograph test was conducted on the trunk of the tree as part of continuing efforts to preserve the tree and its limbs.

William Rowe, Regional Extension Agent for Forestry Wildlife and Natural Resources, says "We're doing that because the public is allowed underneath the tree. It's a tree of great age and the structural strength of the trunk and its large branches are very important for public safety," says Rowe.

This test is normally not taken on just any tree because you have to insert a drill bit into the tree.

"This one is only two millimeters in diameter but an injury is an injury. This is done for specific purposes and so far the readings have been excellent,” says Rowe.

So how does it work?

The instrument exerts pressure on the drill bit and as it encounters wood, it takes a reading of the force the drill bit has to exert.

"That gives us a sense of what the strength of the wood is. Is it alive? Is it dead? Is it hollow? Is it soft and spongy? It tells us all of that and we can tell if the center of the tree is good or not," replied Rowe.

The results came back positive, showing that the constitutional oak tree is very resistant.

Lucy Edwards, Regional Extension Agent for Alabama Extension, says "Thankfully, we got a good reading from the resistograph showing that in the first, anywhere from five to ten inches, is very live-hard wood. There were no parts of decay."

Alabama Extension shared tips with the city of Geneva on how to preserve the limb and the overall tree itself.

"Spanish moss looks beautiful in the live oak; however it is a parasite so we suggested getting rid of that. If you look up in the canopy you'll see a few dead just removing the dead limbs, keeping them from being a hazard. We talked about mulching the area because if we can cut down on any vegetative growing underneath the tree...that's less competition for the tree," replied Edwards.

Mayor Frankie Lindsey is determined to do whatever it takes in order to preserve the old oak tree.

He says "Tree is going to be here many, many more years. We just got a problem with this one limb. We've got it propped up and we're going to keep it there. We're going to keep it as safe as we can, if we have to we'll severe it off but Geneva is very happy today about this tree."

Staff members from the Alabama Forestry Commission mentioned that the old oak tree is alive and well. In fact, it is healthy… even the broken limb on the tree is still alive and healthy.

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