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Governor O’Malley Announces BPW Approval Of New Pavilion At Wye Oak State Park
Project Will Commemorate Champion White Oak That Fell in 2002
ANNAPOLIS — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced the Board of Public Works has approved $338,396 for the construction of a visitor’s pavilion at Wye Oak State Park in Talbot County, once home to the largest White Oak in the United States and Maryland’s State Tree. The majestic tree, believed to have been more than 460 years old, toppled during a thunderstorm on June 6, 2002.
“The Wye Oak was one of Maryland’s greatest living symbols, although it was older than the state itself,” Governor O’Malley said. “It stood as a source of inspiration and awe to thousands of visitors; a connection with our history, with nature and with the conservation spirit that is the legacy of Marylanders. The pavilion will keep that important connection alive.”
Maryland's first State Forester, Fred W. Besley, made the first official measurement of the Wye Oak in 1909 and it quickly gained recognition as the largest and finest specimen of white oak in the country.
In 1919, American Forests magazine created a national Hall of Fame for trees, and included the "Wye Mills Oak" as its first nominee. In 1940, the American Forestry Association held a nationwide contest to locate the largest living specimens of American trees. The Wye Oak was the first tree nominated, and was celebrated as the national champion until the 2002 storm.
Maryland purchased the Wye Oak in 1939, marking the first time in American history that a government agency purchased a single tree for preservation. It was declared Maryland's State Tree in 1941. At its end, the tree measured 31 feet 2 inches in circumference, was 79 feet tall and had an average crown spread of 102 feet. After its destruction, the tree’s branches and trunk were transformed into mementos, most notably a 300-pound desk for the office of Maryland's governor.
The 29-acre Wye Oak State Park is located in the community of Wye Mills on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The tree site can be viewed from sunrise to sunset daily. The wood frame pavilion, that will stand about 30 yards from the original site, will include benches, an interpretive display of the history of the Wye Oak and a young sampling. Another display will house of huge cross section of the trunk of the tree. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed next spring. The project will be managed by the Department of General Services.
“The new pavilion will provide a nice chance for people who never got a chance to see the tree to get a feel for how big it was,” Park Manager John Ohler said. “It’s amazing, after the big tree fell, how many people came up and remembered how much they used to enjoy just sitting there, staring at the big old massive tree.”
August 6, 2008
Contact: Wiley Hall
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov