State carves out plan for sharing Wye Oak remnants

November 21, 2003|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

WYE MILLS - Nearly 18 months after Maryland's massive Wye Oak crashed to the ground during a severe thunderstorm, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that pieces of the tree's carefully preserved remains will live anew as icons shared by every jurisdiction.

Under a plan worked out by an 18-member committee last year, 8,000 leaves from the 460-year-old white oak will be gilded and sold for $40 each.

The sale will raise money to improve the Wye Oak State Park here, including a pavilion to cover the largest section of the 30-ton trunk or bole.

A ghostly jagged piece of the trunk that was left standing will eventually be joined by a cloned twin of the tree in the enhanced park, which will include a new 3/4 -mile trail linking the site with the historic Wye Mill. Two benches, built from the wood, will be placed at the park.

"The clone will be planted when it is about 4 to 6 feet," said Frank Gouin, a retired University of Maryland horticulturist. "The root system of the clone will follow the old root system. The mother tree will be a kind of nurse."

Area residents, some of whom complained last spring when Ehrlich announced he had ordered a $25,000 desk to be fashioned from some of the wood, were pleased at the park plans, which they hope will entice tourists to the tiny town.

Two churches, Old Wye Parish and Wye Mills United Methodist, each will receive a piece of the trunk to be made into crosses.

"We thought maybe it would get lost in some `church and state' debate, but it worked out as a great thing for both churches," said the Rev. Charles E. Osberger, rector at Old Wye.

The state Senate and House of Delegates will each receive pieces of the tree, as will Talbot County and the town of Wye Mills. Each county in the state will receive diametrical cutouts.

State officials say they will distribute wooden crab mallets to dignitaries around Maryland.

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