A giant sequoia that has stood for more than a century on Jefferson Street will be moving to a new location sometime in the next few years as Saint Luke’s Health System undertakes its campus expansion.
The 95-foot tree is one of many covered in the St. Luke’s master campus plan.
The master plan has been closely scrutinized by neighbors who are gauging the impact of the St. Luke’s expansion on neighboring streets and the city at large. Less public attention has been paid to the flora that lines the streets around St. Luke’s. But in an appendix to its plan, the health system tallies up the trees and shrubs that are in its path.
Dozens of maples, lindens, sweetgums, locusts, and catalpas on the campus will be affected in one way or another by the St. Luke’s expansion. Some other trees will probably be moved. But the giant sequoia stands out because of its immense size, age and reach. In the 1980s, its top died, some say because of girdling from Christmas lights, some say because of extreme cold, said City Forester Brian Jorgenson.
“A local arborist, Jerry McCarter, trained a branch on top to grow as a new top. Judging by how it looks, I’d say he did a good job,” Jorgenson said. “It’s an amazing tree to be sure.”
Giant sequoia are not common in Boise, although there are others around the city.
“For us, it has a lot of significance, and it does for the neighborhoods, too,” said Beth Toal, the vice president for communications and marketing at the Boise-based health system. “It’s been such a central part of our campus for a long, long time.”
A tree-moving firm from northern California that specializes in large conifers has assured the hospital’s leaders that it can be successfully moved with a 98 percent chance of survival, said architect Jeff Hull, the health system’s director of architecture and construction.
“Huge trees are moved pretty frequently all over the world, with success,” said Jorgenson said. “Let’s hope this follows suit.”