News

A ‘tree-mendous’ discovery

MILLER BAY — When Friends of Miller Bay member Niki Quester was pulling invasive species along Miller Bay Road during one of the group’s work parties last month, she came across a mess of ivy thriving at the base of a large cedar tree.

As she pulled away more and more of the ground cover, she discovered that the tree trunk wasn’t of typical size. In fact, it was much bigger than she realized.

To learn more about this unusually large cedar, she called the one person she knew who would be able to tell her more about it — Kitsap Trees’ Jim Trainer.

“It was one giant tree and I thought he’d like to see it,” Quester explained.

Trainer determined it was about 300 to 400 years old and measured the trunk to be 18-feet and 7-inches in circumference and about 110-feet tall. While the inside is rotting, which is natural for cedars, it has a healthy canopy, he said.

One unique feature about the tree is a springboard notch, which was created by loggers when the peninsula was initially clear cut. The loggers would insert a board into the notch to stand on while cutting down trees.

While there are plenty of old growth stumps in Kitsap with these types of markings, there are very few living trees in the area sporting them, Trainer explained. He figured the loggers had prepared to cut down the tree by creating the notch, but for some reason, had stopped and never finished the job.

And while the area was selectively logged again about 20 years ago, loggers didn’t have mills that could handle such large trees, Trainer said.

Another unique feature is the charcoal found at the base and inside the hollowed out tree — the result of burns that occurred within the area many years ago, Trainer said. Native Americans would burn areas to create a meadow and plant cammus to lure elk and deer into the area for hunting, he added.

“Just think of the stories that happened here,” he said.

Trainer hopes to include the cedar as a part of a Heritage Tree program he is developing, which would preserve historic trees in the area.

Quester said everyone she has talked to about the tree has wanted to see it, including Suquamish Tribal Elder Marilyn Wandrey, who visited the site Monday.

“She was just awe-stricken with this tree,” Quester said.

The cedar is on the 18-acre property that the FOMB group has been raising money for to purchase and preserve. The group hopes to use the property for recreational and educational purposes in the future and the tree would serve the latter perfectly.

“It’s great it’s on this site here, so schoolchildren can visit a tree this old,” Trainer said.

“This site has all these really neat features that makes it valuable to preserve,” said FOMB president Dick D’Archangel. “This is just an added feature.”

GRAY BOX:

Friends of Miller Bay will be having its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at the North Kitsap Fire & Rescue headquarters on Miller Bay Road. The guest speaker will be Leonard Forsman of the Suquamish Tribe. For more information, call (360) 297-6564.

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