Save the old oak

Hidden in a small clearing among the dense underbrush in the Southern Zone of Bronx’s Pelham Bay Park is a White Oak (Quercus alba) estimated to be between 200 and 400 years old.

This oak tree may have existed for as many as two centuries before the Hunter Mansion was built on the grounds of what became Pelham Bay Park in 1804. In fact, this tree may even have been standing during the American Revolutionary Battle of Pell’s Point in 1776. In a bustling metropolis like New York City, such a historic living specimen is a rarity and worth preserving.

Unfortunately this majestic oak is currently under threat.

Initially growing when the land was grassland, this tree is currently being shaded out by the sapling growth that is accompanying the transition from grassland to primary forest. WildMetro is committed to preserving native species, such as this white oak, and has been granted approval by the NYC Parks Department to clear the brush and saplings in the immediate vicinity in order to facilitate the oak’s continued existence. Additionally, WildMetro will conduct vegetation surveys prior to and after clearing the area in order to chart the progress of the oak and the re-growth of the under brush. Such information will give us a better understanding of the plant community structure and ecological succession. We firmly believe that by buttressing our mission with community support in the form of local volunteers, we can restore the vitality of this oak along with fostering interest in native species and habitats.

New York City is fortunate to have many public green spaces, with a surprising number of areas that remain relatively undeveloped. At WildMetro, it is our mission to ensure these natural spaces continue to be populated with native species, such as the white oak. The restoration of this white oak presents an ideal opportunity to preserve an individual of a native species with significant historical value.