[KHTS] – A dozen years after naturalist John Quigley helped save the giant oak Old Glory from certain death, Santa Clarita Valley environmental group SCOPE is recognizing the importance of community involvement at 1:30 p.m. Friday, according to the group’s president.
“I think what was so significant about this is that we have been, in this valley, as an oak tree city, and we care about our native oaks,” said SCOPE President Lynne Plambeck. “And this developer was really going to proceed with disregard for that.”
In 2002, a Stevenson Ranch developer reached terms with SCOPE regarding several native oak trees at a site slated for development, but their deal didn’t end up getting put into the officials terms for conditions of approval, Plambeck said.
“We kind of got tricked,” Plambeck said. “The developer went in and he took out two really big heritage oaks — he was after the third.”
Running out of options, the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment reached out to John Quigley, a renowned environmentalist who has already achieved fame for tree-sitting in Northern California, Plambeck said.
Quigley, a charismatic individual who was able to galvanize support and draw attention from all over the world, stayed in the tree for 72 days, she said.
People even began sending mail to Old Glory as Pico Canyon Oak No. 409, she said, adding children sent countless drawings that were displayed around the tree.
Eventually, under the advisement of county Supervisor Michael Antonovich, the massive oak was moved about a quarter-mile down the road — a feat that made the Guinness Book of World Records for Largest Tree Moving, Plambeck said.
“Joining Quigley at Friday’s celebration will be Art and Helen Tanderup, who’ve become leaders of a group of farmers that have stood up against the Keystone XL Pipeline by refusing to let it cross their farm land,” according to a SCOPE news release. “The XL Pipeline will transport tar sands crude from Canada across our country for export from Texas harbors, ruining farm land and potentially putting communities in danger.”
The success of Quigley and local environmentalists shows that by communities banding together to take action can succeed and have a very real impact, Plambeck said.
The more than 400-year-old, 10-foot-in-diameter ancient heritage oak sitting at Pico Canyon Park is living proof of that.
“Civic action makes a difference and it should be celebrated,” Plambeck said. “So we’re celebrating saving that gorgeous old oak and celebrating the ability of residents to make a difference in their community.”
The celebration is taking place at 1:30 p.m. in Pico Canyon Park, 25600 Pico Canyon Road in Stevenson Ranch.