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Supporters to rally Sunday at the ‘Taco Bell’ heritage oak tree

November 16, 2013  

By Bobbie Jean Sawyer

AUSTIN –       Supporters of the historic “Taco Bell” oak tree at the intersection of Hwy. 290 and William Cannon will hold a rally from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, to help save the landmark heritage oak.

The tree, which stands in the way of TxDOT’s street renovations at William Cannon, was temporarily saved by an outpouring of public support. The community was given until Dec. 31 to relocate the tree, if possible.

Andrea Street, an Oak Hill resident who’s been a champion for the tree ever since learning of its shaky fate, is an organizer for the event. Street said volunteers would be handing out flyers, carrying signs and collecting donations for a $3,000 feasibility study to determine whether the tree is able to be transplanted.

Street said the goal of the event is to inform Oak Hill residents that the tree is in danger.

“If people don’t want to donate they’re going to get a flyer to help get the word out,” Street said.

Austin Heritage Tree Foundation received a $59,000 grant from the city to relocate the historic tree, leaving the community with roughly $30,000 to raise. Austin Heritage Tree Foundation director Michael Fossum said the foundation has received about $1,000 toward the $3,000 needed to cover the feasibility study. The foundation has also received a donation in-kind from organic gardener and owner of the Natural Gardener, John Dromgoole, who’s agreed to supply mulch and other supplies needed for the tree’s aftercare.

Fossum said he’s already conducted an excavation of the root crown, the knobby roots located around the trunk of the tree that help maintain a tree’s sturdiness.

Fossum said the root crown contains some fill-in material that was likely used by a previous developer.

“A lot of times the developers or the engineers will go in and put fill-in over dirt, or rocks and debris, in order to build the ground up to the height they need for the road or building,” Fossum said. “We have to do some more investigation to verify that the tree is indeed transplantable. But what we’ve found so far doesn’t rule that out.”

Fossum said the foundation’s goal is to have the feasibility study completed by the end of this week.

It’s still unclear where the tree would be placed if relocated. Clint Small Middle School has requested to have the tree placed on its campus, where it would be cared for as part of curriculum for Green Tech Academy, environmental courses designed to help students develop a connection with nature through hands-on learning. But Fossum said moving the tree 1.8 miles to the middle school could prove to be too great a challenge.

“There are some physical limitations that may preclude that,” said Fossum, referring in part to the power lines and streetlights that make it difficult for the tree to pass under.

Fossum said a more viable location for the tree might be the area near the Shell station on Hwy. 290, just across the highway from where it’s currently located.

To donate to the fund to save the Taco Bell tree:

Send a check to the Austin Parks Foundation at 507 Calles Street, Ste. 116 Austin, TX 78702 (Write Austin Heritage Tree Foundation—Taco Bell Tree on the memo line.)

Donate by phone by calling 512-477-1566 (ext. 1) (Specify that the donation is for the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation—Taco Bell tree, and email Michael Fossum at mfossum@austin.rr.com with the name of the donor and amount of the donation).

Donate online at austinparks.org/adopter-donations.html. Click on the Austin Heritage Tree Foundaiton box and emailmfossum@austin.rr.com with the name of donor and amount of the donation.

For more information on local heritage trees visit austinheritagetreefoundation.com.

To donate to the fund to save the Taco Bell tree:

Send a check to the Austin Parks Foundation at 507 Calles Street, Ste. 116 Austin, TX 78702 (Write Austin Heritage Tree Foundation—Taco Bell Tree on the memo line.)

Donate by phone by calling 512-477-1566 (ext. 1) (Specify that the donation is for the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation—Taco Bell tree and email Michael Fossum at mfossum@austin.rr.com with the name of the donor and amount of the donation).

Or donate online at austinparks.org/adopter-donations.html. Click on the Austin Heritage Tree Foundaiton box and email mfossum@austin.rr.com with the name of donor and amount of the donation.

For more information on local heritage trees visit austinheritagetreefoundation.com.


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