Austin Heritage Tree Foundation
Protecting trees

Taco Bell Tree


                                          PLEASE, SAVE THE TACO BELL TREE - DONATE

Update 07.12.14:

What was impossible  last September has become possible and is occurring now thanks to many, many people who care for this tree and want it to live!

The transplanting of the Taco Bell tree, the heritage tree at Oak Hill, has been confirmed for this morning.  The Austin Heritage Tree Foundation (AHTF) needs to raise an additional $5000 for higher-than-estimated traffic control expenses and for the first year of post care (water, meter, pest control, soil aeration).  The fund will remain open until we reach that goal.    Please, donate.

The tree has responded very well to the root pruning, that was necessary to transplant it.  It's canopy is very dark green and happy.  The roots were pruned vertically and the root ball was encapsulated to prevent the roots from breaking.  The tree has been watered deeply for the last few weeks, to encourage new root growth.  Now, the roots are being cut horizontally with sharp pipes inserted into the soil.  
 
AHTF hired the most experienced giant tree moving company in Austin, Environmental Design (Jon Hillis, local VP), and Guy Leblanc, certified arborist, is monitoring its health.  Keith Brown, certified arborist, donates all the pruning necessary.  John Dromgoole from the Natural Gardener has donated Sylvan formula, a compost and mulch mix that is excellent for trees. 

This heritage tree is a tough survivor and a very lucky tree that is very loved by many in the community.  We thank everyone who helped, including our excellent technical team, our contractors, TXDot, the City of Austin Arborist Office, Water Utilities and Transportation Department, Austin's City Council, Austin's Urban Forestry board, over 10 companies and over 260 private donors.  AHTF has done their best because of the community's help, our technical team and TXDot's assistance.

This tree is one of the few remaining from the historic Beckett Grove of Oak Hill.  It is a healthy 100 year old tree that is young compared to the many 200 year old trees that have died at the grove.  The grove used to be a tranquil place where travelers to Austin in the late 1800s used to stop to rest under the shade of the large oaks and cool down in the clean waters of Williamson Creek before continuing their long trip to Austin.  Horses needed the water from the creek.  Large portions of the grove were developed in the 1970s.  Development has encroached and population has increased, and so it becomes even more important to save the few heritage trees that are left.

Due to safety concerns, we ask that the interested public watch the tree move from home once we post the video in our website and youtube.  However, if you must attend (and you should if you helped this tree since this is what we worked so hard to accomplish), we ask that interested public and reporters please watch the move from the shopping mall on the south west side of the S290 and William Cannon intersection.

The full south east area where the tree is currently located is restricted to authorized personnel only, including the parking lot between the funeral home and the tree.  The relocation site across S290 just west of the gas station will be restricted to authorized personnel only.  We ask the public to, please, not park there or on the TXDot dirt construction area, to not block access for the trailer and crane to cross S290.

The traffic lanes immediately adjacent to the tree will be closed for about 5 hours to lift the tree out of the hole.  The tree will be lifted with a crane onto a trailer, then after adjustments, the trailer will cross S290 with APD officers doing a rolling stop.  There, the crane will lower the tree into its new location in the historic Beckett Grove, in TXDot ROW where it will not be affected by future construction.

Once at its new location, this tree will be known to AHTF as the "Beckett Grove Oak".

AHTF truly appreciates your help in saving this heritage tree,

Michael

Michael Fossum
Executive Director
Austin Heritage Tree Foundation

Update 07/03/14:

Right on time to celebrate freedom and life, the Taco bell tree is being prepared for transplanting!  What seemed impossible a few months ago is occurring thanks to many, many people who care for this tree and want it to live!

The move will occur in about 2 weeks or so.  Due to safety issues and the need to focus on the tree, the area will be restricted to contractors only.  We will post a video and have a celebratory event after the tree is moved for all who helped. 

The traffic control cost much more than anticipated.  We need $5K to be able to provide post care for the first year (irrigation, certified arborist, tree health care, fertilization, soil aeration, pest control).  Please, help this tree survive by donating

 

.  The tree fund will remain open until we reach this goal.

The roots were pruned vertically and the root ball was encapsulated to prevent the roots from breaking.  The tree has been watered deeply for the last few weeks, to encourage new root growth.  Now, the roots are being cut horizontally with sharp pipes inserted into the soil.  A couple more weeks of work and the tree will go to its new home, right across S290 next to the gas station, to the historic Beckett Grove.

The tree is reacting very well.  It's canopy is very dark green and happy.  Certified arborists are checking its health throughout the process.
 
AHTF implemented the traffic control plan a few weeks ago, consisting of removing a portion of the traffic island, and putting signs and water barricades at the intersection of William Cannon and S290.  The traffic control plan has been improved due to the high traffic at the William Cannon right turn lane.  TXDot committed to not shut down any of the William Cannon lanes except during off-peak hours and on a temporary basis, so the right turn lane has to remain open. 

TXDot helped by removing the traffic island completely.  This was no longer in use due to the construction.  The City of Austin Transportation Department helped by designing and approving a traffic control plan to detour all long vehicles from the William Cannon right turn lane.  Our traffic control contractor N-Line will be putting those signs up tomorrow morning. 

We are very thankful for all of this help, just when it was needed very badly.  Thanks so much Victor, Chris and Ben from TXDot; Eric from The City of Austin Transportation Department; and Eric, Victor, Justin, Jesse and Lehman from N-Line.   

The Taco Bell tree wishes you all a safe and happy July 4th!

Update 03/25/14

We reached the $20K goal to move this heritage live oak located at the SE corner of William Cannon Dr. and SH 290 at Oak Hill!  We have signed a contract with Environmental Design (EDI), the only qualified and experienced giant tree moving company in Austin.   We are very close to start the transplanting work, but we need to resolve traffic control issues and we are waiting on the AT&T utilities to be abandoned.  The new deadline will probably be March 31th, but may slide a week or so.  It is not physically possible to start until the fiber optics within the tree's root ball are abandoned and the overhead wires going through the tree branches are removed.   TXDot is coordinating this.

We sincerely thank you all for your donations and help with the fund raising!  However, we may have new unexpected expenses because of traffic control at William Cannon Dr.  It seems that our tree mover will have to work off-peak hours for 5 days, which will cost more.  We'll also have to repair the hole in the road left after the tree is moved.  We are waiting on a bid from our tree mover to determine how much more we will need to raise. 

Please, continue to 
donate.  Donations are tax deductible.  Any surplus will be used for post-care.  We have committed to provide post care (irrigation, tree health care and pest control) for 5 years for this tree because that is crucial for its survival.    

There is time for the company-matching donations.  The Taco Bell tree fund will remain open until the tree is relocated.  The tree moving will take 3-4 weeks.  The actual tree moving across the road will be done at night.  We will have a celebratory gathering by the tree at its new location a week or so after the move.  We will let you know the details later on and hope that you will attend.


It has been a very difficult journey, but we are very close to transplanting this tree.  This tree will have a good chance to be saved because many Austinites cared and helped!  Click here for a description of the purpose of the funds.  Click here for a list of donors.  Click here for news coverage. 

                                                                                         SUMMARY

This tree is called the "Taco Bell tree" by the locals.  The Austin Heritage Tree Foundation (AHTF) secured a grant from the City to pay for a large portion of the transplanting cost, but we need to raise the remainder of the funds. 
There is no alternative to preserve it.

  • In mid October, AHTF obtained a grant approved by the Urban Forestry Board to transplant the tree.  AHTF committed to raise the remaining funds needed, and complete a feasibility study managed and paid by AHTF.
  • AHTF led the fund raising efforts.  The Austin community donated funds for the feasibility study and AHTF arranged for several tree professionals to donate or significantly reduce their fees.
  • The feasibility study, completed in mid November, showed that this 31.5 inch tree is healthy and a good candidate for transplanting.  This tree has an estimated 75% chance of survival if transplanted but 0% if not.  The transplanting cost increased to $94K due to site conditions. 
  • AHTF approached the Austin community, including our tree loving members and friends, who sent more donations.
  • In mid December , AHTF obtained a large grant from the City of Austin, that replaced the previous grant, to transplant this tree.  AHTF committed to provide $10,000 for transplanting and another $10,000 for miscellaneous expenses related to the transplanting, for a total of $20,000.  The City grant will be released since AHTF has raised the $10,000 that we committed to contribute towards the transplanting cost.  We have reached the $20K goal, but may need a few thousand more for additional unexpected traffic control expenses.  We are waiting for the contractors bids to determine the amount needed, if any.  Please, continue to donate if you can.  Any surplus will be used for post care expenses for 5 years for this tree (irrigation, water meter, tree health care, certified arborist, pest control, fertilization, soil aeration with an air spade). 
           
  • The tree will be relocated to the Beckett Grove, 500 ft. northeast across the road along S290, west of the gas station, in TX Dot right-of-way, where it will not be affected by future construction.  Click here to see map. 

TO DONATE  USE ONE OF THE METHODS BELOW:

The Austin Heritage Tree Foundation (AHTF) has setup an Austin Heritage Tree Foundation-Taco Bell tree fund at the Austin Parks Foundation.  Donations are tax deductible. 

Please, contact Michael Fossum, AHTF (mfossum@austin.rr.com, 512-739-5472) with any questions regarding the tree or the fund.

·     Send a check to the Austin Parks Foundation, 507 Calles Street, Ste. 116, Austin, TX 78702.  Please, make sure to write “Austin Heritage Tree Foundation- Taco Bell Tree” on the memo line.  Please, email mfossum@austin.rr.com  with the name of donor and donation amount so that we can confirm your donation.

·     Call the Austin Parks Foundation at 512-477-1566 ext. 1 to donate by phone.  Make sure to specify that your donation is for the  “Austin Heritage Tree Foundation- Taco Bell Tree.”  Please, email mfossum@austin.rr.com  with the name of donor and donation amount so that we can confirm your donation.  Please, contact Michael Fossum, AHTF, with any questions regarding the tree or the fund.  

·     Donate with a credit card at this link:  https://www.austinparks.org/adopter-donations.html

Make sure to click on the Austin Heritage Tree Foundation box (6th from the top).  Please, email mfossum@austin.rr.com  with the amount and donor’s name so that we know that the donation was for the Taco Bell tree. 


WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE FUNDS IF THE TREE IS NOT TRANSPLANTED?

We remain confident that this tree will be transplanted.  However, if the funds are not raised or the tree is not transplanted, we will offer 3 options to each donor and we'll do as each donor requests: 

  1. The donation could be kept in an AHTF transplanting fund for the next tree that needs that we transplant.                 
  2. The donation could be transferred to the AHTF general tree fund where 100% will be used for expenses related to trees.  We do not have paid staff.   We have been very successful protecting, preserving, maintaining and advocating for heritage trees for 4 years. 
  3. The donation could be returned minus expenses and fees. 

We were advised on January 7th by the Austin Parks Foundation, the organization were we setup the fund, that it is their policy to not refund donations because it is complicated.  They will honor our offer to refund a donation if requested, but they will assess additional fees to do so.  We ask you to, please, consider options 1 and 2 instead.

Thanks so much!  

 

 




BACKGROUND

This healthy historical heritage tree is not protected by the heritage tree ordinance because all state work is exempted.  This tree is called the "Taco Bell tree" by the locals who remember the long gone Taco Bell near by.  This heritage tree is in the way of the intersection continuous flow expansion, a 5 year temporary solution to improve traffic flow.  A new Oak Hill Parkway is currently being designed, and ironically 4 out of the 8 proposed designs would preserve this tree.  This tree cannot be incorporated in the design and it can only be saved by transplanting it.

TX Dot welcomed the help to save this tree and, even though construction had already started, they allowed 2 months to transplant it and have fenced an area around the tree to protect it temporarily.  The tree was originally scheduled for removal at the end of October. 

AHTF and the
community raised funds for the feasibility study and transplanting.  Several certified arborists donated their work or reduced their fee significantly.  The feasibility study was completed in mid November.  A certified arborist and the tree mover determined that this tree is in good health and is a good candidate for transplanting.  AHTF will provide 5 years of post care (irrigation and tree care).  TX Dot has provided a location in their ROW, 500 ft. northeast, across the road along S290, where it will not be affected by future construction.  This is the area known as the Beckett Grove. 

This heritage tree is one of the few remaining from the Beckett Grove, a historical place included in the 2008 approved Oak Hill Neighborhood Plan (Chapter 2, pg. 8).  In the late 1800s, travelers to Austin used to stop to rest under the shade of the large oaks and cool down in the clean waters of Williamson Creek.  Horses needed the water from the creek.  Large portions of the grove were developed in the 1970s.  Development has encroached and population has increased, and so it becomes even more important to save the few heritage trees that are left.

This historical tree is very significant to the Austin community.  It is a heritage tree worth preserving.  Everyone is helping. 

DONORS: 

Our sincere thanks to the more than 250 donors from all over the larger Austin Metropolitan area.

Special thanks to Elizabeth, Andrea, Nate and Katie of Oak Hill for arranging their own separate fund raising events and contributing to the fund.

Special thanks to Laurie, Bruce, Elba, Dwight, Minetter, Dana, Stan, Gerald, Alison, Michele, Lee, Marion and Kevin for your generous or multiple donations.

In Special Memory of:  Dear Erica and Dear Aunt Fay

Special thanks to Girl Scouts Brownie troop #2514 in Oak Hill who donated half of their cookie earnings to save this tree.

All About Vapor

Edmis.com

M. Dorsey Cartwright, LPC, LMFT, CCMHC  Which Inner Selves Run Your Practice?

Freescale - Oak Hill

Las Palapas, San Antonio

Aan Coleman & Associates

Jack Allen's Kitchen - Oak Hill

Cypress Grill Restaurant

Supercuts - Oak Hill

DONATED PROFESSIONAL TREE WORK: 

We are listing the arborists below to thank them for their donations of tree work.  This listing is not an endorsement for the quality of their tree work.  Please, email us if you want our recommendation for tree care professionals.

Arbor Vitae Tree Care, Guy Leblanc, Certified Arborist.

Heritage Tree Care, Vincent Debrock, Certified Arborist
.

Austin Tree Experts, Keith Brown, Certified Arborist.

Significantly reduced cost for air spading:  Davey Tree, Dan Hunsicker, Certified Arborist.

DONATION PLEDGES:

HEB - Oak Hill

DONATION OFFERS:


The Natural Gardener offered to provide mulch, soil and other products after the tree is transplanted.  However, the tree mover will be providing these.

NEWS COVERAGE :

           

 

03/25/14 http://kut.org/post/why-its-so-damn-hard-move-taco-bell-tree

03/16/14 http://austin.twcnews.com/content/search/298142/austinites-fight-to-save-heritage-tree

03/12/14, http://austin.twcnews.com/content/news/298076/tree-foundation-closers-to-saving--taco-bell-tree-

02/27/14 http://austin.twcnews.com/content/search/297794/fundraising-efforts-continue-for--taco-bell-tree-

02/24/14, http://impactnews.com/austin-metro/southwest-austin/group-nears-goal-to-relocate-'taco-bell-tree'/

01/29/14, http://impactnews.com/austin-metro/southwest-austin/txdot-prepares-new-turn-lanes-intersections-along-w-hwy-290/

12/31/13, http://www.keyetv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/construction-delay-extends-effort-save-historic-sw-austin-oak-15229.shtml

12/30/13, http://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/food/2013-12-30/dine-out-at-jack-allens-kitchen-to-save-a-heritage-oak/

11/21/13, http://keyetv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/the-cost-saving-austins-trees-14534.shtml, no longer available

11/21/13, Keye's The cost of saving Austin's trees in youtube          

11/17/13, http://austin.twcnews.com/content/news/296251/heritage-tree-foundation-raises-money-to-save--taco-bell--tree

11/16/13, http://oakhillgazette.com/featured/2013/11/130-year-old-heritage-oak-tree-could-be-cut-down-soon/

02/12/13, http://oakhillgazette.com/featured/2013/02/roadwork-may-knock-out-oaks/

Live Oak grove south of the treeTXDot's site plans show this grove as protected.  However, TXDot removed 2 trees because of safety concerns since the trunks of these trees extended over the new road without providing adequate clearance.  Pruning would have not solved this problem.  We asked TXDot to leave stumps because the live oaks in groves are connected by their roots, and cutting trees flush to the ground allows a path for decay to the roots of the other trees. 

It is sad that these 2 healthy trees were removed.  Many trees get removed when roads are expanded.

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