PARIS, TEXAS – An early September storm event with moderate winds and heavy rain took aim at several large trees in Paris. A large Water Oak tree that has grown near the Paris Public Library for possibly more than 150 years suffered the loss of a major limb that crashed onto the library parking lot during the storm. The broken limb did not damage the building or property, but there is concern about the viability of the remaining trunk and limbs.
After the fallen limbs had been cleared, library staff sought input from local experts to determine the future of the great oak. “This tree has been on that corner of the property for as long as anyone I’ve spoken to can remember,” Library Director Connie Lawman said. “There are plates from 1987 commemorating expansion of the library that include a line-art drawing of the building and the tree; it’s a piece of Paris Public Library history.”
City of Paris Parks Superintendent Bill Loranger is designated as arborist for the City.
Loranger sought input from International Society of Arboriculture Certified Master Arborist Lee Brown of Melissa, Texas. Brown completed an on-site inspection of the tree, including using a sounding hammer to assess for decay in the tree’s roots and trunk.
Brown’s memo to the City describes decay in the northeast quadrant of the trunk in addition to the visible dead and dying limbs. The message states that fruiting bodies noted above the decay zone indicate current infection and ongoing decay processes.
Brown’s assessment says that the root collar is well-defined without discernable defects.
After completing his inspection, Brown said, “In my opinion, this tree poses an unreasonable risk to the property, as much as I hate to say it. And I like to save every possible tree that I can.”
ISA Certified Arborist Jackie Chennault of Paris also examined the tree and believes there is decay within the trunk, increasing the potential for liability issues. A third expert, a recently retired arborist from Lamar County, provided an opinion that concurs with Brown and Chennault’s. The three experts agreed that the tree should be removed due to safety concerns for people and property.
“We are saddened to think of losing this grand hardwood tree, but the liability that could result from another limb or possibly the entire tree falling can’t be ignored,” City of Paris Deputy City Manager Robert Vine said. “This decision simply has to be made in order to protect the public and our historic building.”
Loranger sought bids to remove the tree but leave a section of the stump. The remaining portion would be sealed and later used as an educational piece where children could count the tree’s growth rings. The addition of seating on the adjacent lawn is also being considered, and the stump could serve as a table.
“I would like to see the tree live on in other forms after removing it,” Lawman said. “I’m hopeful there will be some large sections of wood that might be used for art pieces.”
If sections of the trunk are determined to be usable by woodworkers and artists, they can join a first come, first served list by contacting Lawman at 903-785-8531.
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Photo caption: Dead and dying limbs and exposed wood from a fallen limb raised safety concerns about the condition of a large Water Oak near the Paris Public Library.