Just around the corner of Union and Cottage Street, the LaFollete black walnut tree was one of the largest trees of its kind in Marion County. According to local history, an old man named LaFollette claimed he started the big tree in about 1880 and was grown from a nut brought by wagon from Nebraska.
According to reports, the tree was cut down as a sparse few protesters looked on. I suppose the Landscaping crew that was felling the tree was supposed to see one of the cardboard signs, drop his chainsaw, and immediately take up arms with the meager group on the ground. Just like in that CBS made-for-TV movie we’ve seen at one time or another (With Cheryl Ladd and Don Knotts). Sadly that did not happen.

It’s sad that urban sprawl has become less like a threat. Instead it has become a great solution to parking. Losing this tree sets precedent to this loss. Too often, there’s the impression that since trees are a “renewable” resource that losing one tree is no big deal. Losing this particular tree may be small in the grand scheme of things, but it signals a significant threat. It has frankly and explicitly established the fact that history is a disposable commodity. Thanks State Investments.

Hmm, a company has a name that conflicts with its actions, that’s rare.Hey, did you know that Oregon has the Nation’s largest black cottonwood tree? Granted, the tree is in good health and lives within in Willamette Mission State Park. However, it’s only a matter of time before it “gets in the way.” So why not be aware long before the day it’s scheduled to be processed into chopsticks?

Whether you’re Janet Taylor or a guy behind me named Freddy, you (yes, you) can keep this from happening. Who’s up for an activist group to recognize the need for the tree’s well being? How about a grass-roots society to preserve Salem’s remaining trees? Prior organization and planning will save our trees –not just markers and cardboard.

It’s easily said that the LaFollete tree may have been lost because the corporation was underhanded. What’s important to realize is that more will fall unless we act.

For more information on the other heritage trees in Salem, visit www.oregonlink.com/ trees/. Do something before they become firewood.