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Tree Trimming

Under the expert stewardship of WCR resident Warren Struss, two ranch treasures have recently received haircuts.

The mighty oak adorning the main ranch entrance, just past the mailboxes, as well as the grand oak announcing the barn were operated on in August, 2016, to remove heavy, overhanging limbs. ArbolTree Service did the honors.

Indeed, Warren, retired Austin Parks and Recreation Department Director, is a Wolf Creek Ranch treasure himself. Among other accomplishments, Struss led the team which oversaw the survival of Texas' best known tree, the Treaty Oak!*

*STORY OF THE TREATY OAK -- Estimated to be more than 500 years old, the large oak tree standing on a busy Austin, Tx., street corner is a local symbol of Texas history, and an international symbol of resilience.

It's the last of 14 Live Oak trees once known to Comanche and Tonkowa Indians as the Council Oaks, under which peace and war parties were staged. Religious ceremonies were even hosted under the tree when tea made from its acorns was shared in the belief it protected loved ones far away from home.

Legend has it that Stephen F. Austin himself signed the first treaty between the Anglos and the Indians beneath the shade of this tree in 1824, thus the tree's name, Treaty Oak.

The majestic tree's wide canopy stretched 127 feet in diameter and bore witness to countless other naps, picnics, feasts, proposals, marriages, religious and educational services. Sam Houston is said to have rested beneath its limbs after his expulsion from the governor's office at the dawn of the civil war.

In 1922, the American Forestry Association named the Treaty Oak as the most perfect specimen of any living tree in the country; its picture hangs in the AFA Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.

In 1937, in an effort to protect the land and tree from development, the city of Austin bought the land on which it sits and turned it into a park. But in 1989, city forester was alerted that brown spots were appearing beneath the tree and that its leaves were dropping. First thought to be diseased, lab results revealed the tree had been exposed to the poison Velpar in an amount capable of killing 100 trees! Experts statewide lent their hands to save the tree.

Newspapers and media outlets worldwide covered the story. Billionaire Ross Perot helped fund the rescue, and DuPont, Velpar's manufacturer, staked a $10,000 reward for the poisoner's capture. Flowers, candles, crystals, and get-well cards were piled at the foot of the tree while psychics measured and shared its energy.

Miraculously, the tree survived, though it lost much of its original grandeur. Treaty Oak has weathered hurricanes, sweltering heat, droughts, threat of urban expansion, floods, and a staggering dose of poison, yet it endures.

In 1997, the mighty oak produced its first acorns since the poisoning. The acorns were collected and germinated, and in 1999, all the baby Treaty Oaks found homes in Texas and other states, ensuring its legacy.

Treaty Oak is a venerable survivor and a heroic example of nature's resilience in the face of the most extreme adversity. Today only about a third of the original tree remains, but it continues to spread its wide limbs and dig its roots deep into the Texas soil, ready to stand steadfast for another 500 years.)

Needless to say, Wolf Creek Ranch's trees are in good hands, thanks to Warren.

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