Sequoia Sent to Idaho by John Muir Will Be Uprooted and Moved Two Blocks

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Around 1912, naturalist/explorer/national parks advocate John Muir sent four sequoia seedlings to a forester friend in Boise, Idaho. Only one of those trees still remains in the city today, and after standing in the same spot for a century, it’s about to get a change of scenery.

As the Associated Press reports, St. Luke’s Health System is spending $300,000 to move the sequoia two blocks away to make room for the expansion of a hospital. Weighing 800,000 pounds and towering 10 stories above the ground, the workers tasked with moving the tree have their work cut out for them. The relocation project will start the afternoon of Friday, June 23 with the tree company lifting the six-foot thick trunk from the ground and placing it onto a rig of inflatable, rolling tubes. The tree will begin its two-block journey at midnight Saturday and is expected to arrive at its new home on city property 12 hours later.

The company has never transported a tree this size, but they estimate their chances of success to be 95 percent. If the tree doesn’t survive the trip, the city will lose a piece of its history. St. Luke’s realized this when laying out their construction plans—hospital spokeswoman Anita Kissée told the AP that cutting it down “was never an option.”

While sequoias have evolved to withstand fire and disease, laying down roots in a new place is sure to put stress on the behemoth. The relocation crew plans to transplant the soil currently supporting the roots as well to increase the tree's likelihood of surviving for centuries to come.

[h/t AP]