So just how powerful is the storm currently raging its way across Oregon?
Well, among many other means of destruction, it’s strong enough to rip down the nation’s largest Sitka spruce tree. The Oregon Department of Forestry reports that the 206-foot tree in Klootchy Creek County Park, also known as “Klootchy,” has indeed tumbled to its death.
According to Paul Ries at ODF, the 700-year-old spruce snapped about 75 feet from the ground. In perhaps the most poignant quote ever, Ries simply says: “The tree will now die.”
Let’s take a look at a few things that have happened to the environment during the span of this great tree’s life:
- 1347 to 1350s — The Bubonic plague kills one third to 75% of the populations of Europe and Asia, creating the first attempts to enforce public health and quarantine laws. And to think, Klootchy was no thicker than a femur back then.
- 1666 — Japan government officials warn against dangers of erosion, stream situation and flooding caused by deforestation. A follow-up proclamation urges people to plant tree seedlings. Now a handsome youngster, Klootchy sent much love across the Pacific for this one.
- 1804 — Lewis and Clark expedition begins their journey West. Upon reaching the Columbia River and ultimately the Oregon coast, the party spent a miserable winter sheltered no more than 50 miles from the now deceased Klootchy.
- 1852 — A giant sequoia tree 300 feet high, 92 feet in circumference and an estimated 2,500 years old is cut down in what will eventually become Yosemite National Park for display in carnival sideshows. The New York Tribune calls the act “vandalism” and “villainous speculation.” At least Klootchy was able to die a natural death.
- 1879 — Division of Forestry established in US, which later became known as the US Forest Service. Since its inception, it’s been a love-and-hate relationship between Oregon trees and the Forest Service. Private timber sale, anyone?
- 1955 — Congress passes the Air Pollution Control Act. Now a wily veteran of the planet, Klootchy dreams of clean air and consistent temperatures. And then Al Gore had to come along and break his heart.
- 1970 — The first nationwide Earth Day is celebrated. Cool, maybe the television will be good for something. Like telling couch potatoes that it’s freaking’ Earth Day!
- 1990 — United Nations report warns that global temperatures are on the rise. Report recommends reducing CO2 emissions worldwide. Umm… yeah.
- 2001 — Bill Clinton moves out of the White House with more than 58 million acres of national forest protected from development that weren‘t prior to his election. Among the lands protected is the forest Klootchy called home. Thank you spotted owl!
- 2003 — Bush Administration strives to abolish or least weaken the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the toxic waste Superfund, the Right to Know Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and several others. Klootchy says, “wait a minute?”
- 2007 — Dec. 3 — Klootchy meets his demise courtesy of a violent winter storm pouring off the Pacific. It was a fine life, dear tree, a fine life indeed.
For a complete tree profile of the massive spruce, click here.