Harrison County

What will it take to save Friendship Oak? You can watch rescuers in action

A large chunk of the Friendship Oak fell from the base of the historic tree at the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus Aug. 4.
A large chunk of the Friendship Oak fell from the base of the historic tree at the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus Aug. 4. Sun Herald File

The Friendship Oak in Long Beach needs a trim and you can watch as experts remove a damaged limb from the famous tree.

The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park said it will set up a securing viewing area on Lloyd Lawn beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday and lasting until the work is done on the more than 500-year-old tree. That could take up to five days, the university said.

The limb snapped this summer because of heavy rain and heavy new growth. There are at least five branches on the limb.

Cannon Tree Services of Covington, Louisiana, will remove the limb. Access to the area around the tree in the middle of the USM Gulf Park campus, known as the Avenue of the Oaks and Friendship Circle, will be limited during the operation.

“Although the University will continue to do all that we can to preserve this historic icon, we do realize that the Friendship Oak is moving into a more mature phase of its life span, and future impacts of weather and other natural elements are difficult to predict,” the USM release said. “As we follow the recommendations of certified arborists and Live oak experts, we remain committed to ensuring that the Friendship Oak retains its dignity as it advances through its life cycle.”

The university will store a piece of the limb and is growing seedlings from acorns collected from the tree and young clones, which are genetically identical saplings from cuttings taken from limbs of the Friendship Oak.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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