Work to move giant sequoia draws curious Idaho onlookers

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Workers in Idaho prepared to inflate rolling tubes beneath a massive sequoia that grew over more than a century from a seed sent by naturalist John Muir. Then, they wrestled the tree up a ramp to street level Friday.

The 10-story-tall landmark was in the final throes of a complex effort to uproot it from the path of a Boise hospital’s expansion and move it two blocks away to city property.

Workers will use the rolling tubes to get the 800,000-pound tree to its new home, starting the journey at midnight Saturday. It is expected to arrive at noon Sunday after shutting down a busy street.

St. Luke’s Health System needs more space and is spending $300,000 to move the largest sequoia in the state rather than chopping it down and risking a public relations backlash.

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Most of the soil surrounding the roots will go with it to improve the chances of the transplant succeeding.

Onlookers watched as the massive tree was prepped for its move, and some spoke about what it meant to them and how they feel about its relocation:

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Christian Schaffeld lives near the tree, which he loves. But he also has a personal connection to the hospital that’s seeking more space.

“I grew up here in Boise. … I plant a lot of trees in my backyard — about 200 of them, right up the street — and I am amazed: That’s the biggest tree I’ve ever seen ever picked up and transplanted. … It’s a service to the City of Trees that kind of epitomizes Boise.”

Schaffeld said he was especially grateful that the hospital was making the effort because doctors there helped him battle cancer.

“I had Stage 4 head and neck cancer. And that’s why when I see something like this, the gift of the tree in the City of Trees, it’s amazing that St. Luke’s is doing all this.”

Schaffeld thinks it will thrive at its new location.

“Trees are amazing, and I think that tree…

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