St. Luke’s makes gi­ant ges­ture by mov­ing se­quoia

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

More than a cen­tury af­ter it was planted as a sapling in a doc­tor’s yard, a 10-story-tall se­quoia has taken up res­i­dence down the street to make way for an ex­pan­sion of St. Luke’s Boise (Idaho) Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

As a gift to the city, St. Luke’s Health Sys­tem spent about $300,000 to move the 98-foot, 800,000-pound tree the two blocks to Fort Boise Park late last month. “We un­der­stand the im­por­tance of this tree to this com­mu­nity,” said Anita Kis­sée, a spokes­woman for St. Luke’s. Cut­ting it down “was never even an op­tion.”

More than 100 years ago nat­u­ral­ist John Muir sent four se­quoia seedlings to Emile Grand­jean, a con­ser­va­tion­minded pro­fes­sional forester and early em­ployee of the U.S. For­est Ser­vice in Idaho. Of the four se­quoias from Muir’s seedlings, the only one that still ex­ists is the one that was moved. It orig­i­nally stood in the yard of Drs. Fred and Alice Pit­tenger, who planted it next to their home around 1912.

The tree was moved by En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign, which spe­cial­izes in mov­ing large trees. “This was one of the largest (we’ve) ever moved when mea­sured by height and girth,” said David Cox, west­ern re­gion vice pres­i­dent of the com­pany.

So far “the tree seems happy, but we are keep­ing a close eye out for any­thing un­usual,” Cox said. “I wish the heat wave would sub­side.”

In all, Cox’s team spent about a month work­ing on the project, with 12 men in­volved in the ac­tual move, which took roughly 10 hours.

The mighty se­quoia is shown mak­ing its slow trip from the hos­pi­tal cam­pus to its new home in a Boise city park.

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