Governor Ehrlich Announces Plans for Wye Oak
WYE MILLS, MD — Demonstrating his commitment to preserving Maryland’s natural resources, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. today announced future plans for the remains of the Wye Oak, which include an exhibit, nature trail and tokens of the beloved oak for dignitaries and members of the community.
The Wye Oak, a symbol of Maryland heritage for more than 450 years, fell during a thunderstorm June 6, 2002. The tree, which sat in Wye Mills, was the largest white oak in North America, and possibly the largest white oak in the world.
“It is hard to imagine our State without the majesty and history of the Wye Oak. Like many Marylanders, I felt strongly about preserving this great tree to the greatest degree possible,” said Governor Ehrlich. “It is my hope that the plans we have announced today will allow the Wye Oak to not only live on in our minds, but in our lives for generations to come.”
Governor Ehrlich was joined by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary C. Ronald Franks, State Forest and Park Service Superintendent Col. Rick Barton, and representatives from the Department of General Services (DGS) and the Maryland Arts Council to announce plans to commemorate the fallen tree, which include:
Based on feedback from hundreds of Marylanders, all portions of the tree are being used and/or preserved and will be distributed in the following manner:
- Return of the bole or trunk to the park’s field;
- Establishment of a Wye Oak exhibit in the schoolhouse on site; and
- Construction of a 3/4-mile nature trail from the park down to the Wye Mill.
- Wye Oak State Park will receive two benches.
- Both branches of the State Legislature will be given one piece of lumber to be utilized, as they desire.
- Talbot County will receive a piece suitable to fashion a county seal for the courthouse. Other counties will receive diametrical cutouts of the bole to be utilized as they desire.
- The Community of Wye Mills will receive a piece suitable to fashion a community seal.
- Wye Mills United Methodist Church and the Old Wye Parish, both churches in Wye Mills, are to receive lumber for crosses.
- A desk will be crafted and placed in the Governor’s office. A piece has been selected and is currently undergoing the required year-long drying process before it can be finished.
- A balance of the lumber, limbs and twigs would be distributed to credentialed artisans to create works of art for public display. This process will be coordinated by DGS, DNR and the Maryland State Arts Council through a formal Request For Proposal process.
- All remaining portions of the tree will be made available to the public through a lottery system and offered for public sale with proceeds going for park improvements.
Currently, the branches, twigs and leaves of the Wye Oak are being housed at the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery in Preston, Md. The bole is presently being stored indoors at the Matapeake Facility in Stevensville, Md.
“This tree that has meant so much to Marylanders may have fallen but it will never really die,” said DNR Secretary Franks. “It will live on in our communities, in our homes and in our hearts. The people of Maryland asked that this be done and I am happy that today, it finally has.”
Governor Ehrlich also participated in a ceremonial planting of a tree cloned from the original Wye Oak at Wye Oak State Park. Given its value, the 1˝-year-old tree was removed after the ceremony and returned to the nursery, but will be returned to the site and replanted once it reaches 4-6 feet in height. The park renovation will be complete at the time of its replanting.
The public will be able to purchase Wye Oak Seedlings and gilded Wye Oak leaves after Thanksgiving. All proceeds from the Wye Oak leaves will be used to create the Wye Oak exhibit and pavilion. For more information, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews/infocus/wye_oak.asp
Posted November 20, 2003