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3,500-Year-Old Tree Burns in Florida – Arson a Possibility

3,500-Year-Old Tree Burns in Florida – Arson a Possibility

At 3,500 years old and 118 feet tall, a bald cypress tree known as the Senator was one of the oldest in the country and one of the tallest east of the Mississippi. The Senator, which stood in Big Tree Park in Florida until it burned down last Monday, was a beloved feature of the central Florida community. Many are shocked that the tree — which has withstood hurricanes, disease and the effects of urbanization — has finally fallen.

Lauren Wyckoff, an environmental scientist, told the New York Times, “It’s not just some tree in your backyard; I just picture everything it saw, everything it has been through.”

Investigators for the Division of Forestry have not yet determined the cause of the fire. Arson was at first ruled out, but now is being reconsidered in the investigation. Some believe that the tree could have been struck by lightning several days ago and smoldered from the inside, or that friction from the wind could have caused it to combust. The Senator was, however, equipped with a lightning rod, which makes the first theory improbable — and locals are unimpressed with the spontaneous combustion explanation.

Before Disney World was built in Orland in 1955, the Senator was the largest tourist draw for the area. More recently, families visited the park to picnic under the giant tree and school children embarked on field trips to witness one of the last specimens of Florida’s great ancient trees.

Whatever the cause for the Senator’s demise, it is a great loss for Florida’s nature enthusiasts. It will be missed. Now thoughts turn to ways to protect other great trees around the country.

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Photo credit: Nicola since 1972

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106 comments

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1:39PM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Thanks for the article.

2:15AM PST on Feb 11, 2012

This is so sad. I wish I could have seen it. I bet it was wonderful...

8:09PM PST on Feb 5, 2012

It's hard to understand how anyone in their right mind would destroy such a prestigious and ancient landmark.

3:23PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

This is so sad.

12:19PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

It's a small consolation that there are still other planets in this galaxy with such thousands of years old trees, too far away to ever be touched by greedy human hands.

9:29PM PST on Jan 28, 2012

I would really hope that no one would burn down such an old tree, older than the American nation, just for the hell of it. Of course I know people would do things like this and it's quite depressing.

11:13PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

If and I hope they do find however is responsible that he is put behind bars for many years, though somehow I do think that will happen just another slap on the wrist and be a good boy

5:05PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

TY William K.for your comment:
"am horrified at the thought that anyone would deliberately burn down such a treasure.

This tree was sprouting at the time that the ancient Polynesians were venturing out into the Pacific. It was around over a thousand years before the Roman Empire. It was older than Jesus, fer crying out loud. Even the most mighty of human endeavors have not persisted as long as this one organism has.

If this is an act of arson, the person involved has committed a crime far more grievous than a mere act of vandalism."

Wherever you are there oncewas a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/3500-year-old-tree-burns-in-florida-arson-a-possibility.html#ixzz1kWQ5UXLl

4:09PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

That tree never hurt anything. Nothing as innocent as a plant deserves to be killed like that for absolutely nothing at all! How ignorant do you have to be to feel the need to hurt such a blessed member of this planet. If it had not been tampered with it may have gone on to live for many more years.

9:37AM PST on Jan 25, 2012

“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
― Chief Seattle
There is a special place in hell for these evil pyromaniacs.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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