Historic League City tree being preserved in large-scale moving operation


The tree was standing at the corner of Louisiana and FM 518, and will soon settle in to its new home.

We've seen how most developers go in and bulldoze every tree when building a new neighborhood, and then they plant those little six-foot trees in the yard. Well, League City leaders are showing the simplest solution is not always the best one.

After more than a hundred years in one spot, this rare hybrid oak will start a new life just down the road in League City. Residents can't help but stop in awe.

"Totally fascinated by the way they are going about this. It's great to see something like this saved," said Jim Michaels.

The Compton Oak found itself in harm's way when construction began on a road improvement project to widen Louisiana Avenue at FM 518. League City council decided to spend more than $190,000 for Hess Landscape Construction of Southern California to transplant the tree.

They have unearthed tons of dirt, just far enough from the tree, to preserve its main root system. Using wood, crews have built what amounts to a large wooden planter around the tree to keep it stable and nourished. Stress from the move is showing from the yellow leaves.

"The tree is being closely monitored. We do a lot of prep work. The contractor has actually done a lot of feeding, it's being hydrated. I don't know if you can see there is a water hose on it, so it's constantly being hydrated to reduce stress," said Heather McKnight, League City arborist.

The heavy lifting is yet to come. Weighing about 540,000 pounds, it will be hoisted out of the earth.

"We have two cranes that will lift the tree, set it onto a big steel plate and then they'll drag it down an open field," said project manager Scott Tuma.

Private land has been donated for its new home near a planned water conservation park, where this Texas-sized tree will be a model of preservation.

"It's nice to see them save it and I think it says a lot for the city and for the county on what they are trying to do here," said Michaels.

The big move will happen on June 5 when the hybrid oak is hoisted out of the ground and replanted near a water conservation park just down the road. League City hopes to have a live web cam up for the event.

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