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Queens Homeowner Helps Preserve Mighty Oak's Historic Roots

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A Richmond Hill homeowner has teamed up with the city parks Department to transfer a red oak tree born after the 2010 tornado back to where its 300-year-old parent once stood. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

A red oak tree stood tall for some 300 years near the corner of 112th Street and 84th Avenue in Richmond Hill. Lifelong resident Sara Carpenter remembers it well.

"You'd climb all over it. It would go up high the roots, so it would go all the way around and all the way down there," Carpenter recalled.

On Wednesday, a crew was busy removing a relative of that tree from a front yard about 50 feet away from where the old one stood before falling victim to a tornado in 2010.

The Parks Department believes it grew from one of the acorns that would regularly fall from the old red oak into the yard. The homeowner nurtured the young tree for the past seven years and watched with pride as it was moved for all of his neighbors to enjoy.

"We're interested in making sure that that tree lived on in some way along New York City streets," said NYC Parks Director of Street Tree Planting Matthew Stephens.

After careful digging, the tree was taken out of its short-term home for what will hopefully be a long life providing shade for residents of the neighborhood.

"It turned out it had a very good structural root system. It was pretty much an easy move," said Tommy Patterson of LaMay's Trees on the Move.

The transplanting operation was a team effort between the Parks Department, which cares for around 600,000 street trees, and the New York Tree Trust, which works to preserve the city's oldest and most historic trees.

"There's a list of about 100 great trees in New York City right now and this original tree was one of them and now this is going to be part of the next generation of great trees," said Tree Trust Development Manager James Kaechele.

With the tree planted and ready to grow in its new home, Carpenter was thankful to her neighbor who raised the tree but who didn't want to talk about it himself.

"He's got the green thumb, thank God. I wouldn't have been able to pull that off," Carpenter said.

Residents who are interested in having a new tree planted on their block can contact the Parks Department by calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov/parks.

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