Stately Clearwater Oak
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Clearwater Sam The moving process began when Westenberger and his crew removed dead limbs and moss. He said the moss blocks sunlight and adds weight to the limbs when it rains or is windy.

“It’s just one more stress we didn’t want on this tree,” he said. The subsequent steps included boring hundreds of 2-inch holes 36 inches into the soil around the tree; filling those holes with fertilizer, soil conditioners and other substances to build up the root system; cutting the ground around the tree to form a giant root ball; bracing the roots with a system of pipes and girders; and, finally, uprooting the tree with a special lifting device and inching it slowly toward its new home.

To move the huge tree, a steel framework was first built underneath it and around its root ball to provide needed support. The tree was hydraulically lifted and wheels placed underneath so it could be hauled along a constructed roadbed. The total assembly weighed 412 tons and the move took several days.

“It took a lot of work to move this 100-year-old giant, but saving Sam was worth every bit of it,” said the arborist in charge of the move, Loren Westenberger.

With more than 25 years of experience in the green industry, Westenberger is the founder and past president of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Florida Arborists Association, and active member of numerous other local and international botanical and environmental bodies.

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