Kaiser Foundation Adding New Trees, Preserving Old For Gathering Place

Wednesday, October 22nd 2014, 6:36 pm
By: Emory Bryan

It's been a month since the groundbreaking for The Gathering Place in Tulsa, and much of the work that's underway now is hidden from view.

There's a huge fence surrounding the property now for security. It blocks the view of the area, except of the canopy of trees on the property, and that's the focus of work on the site now.

9/20/2014 Related Story: Groundbreaking Held For World-Class Tulsa Gathering Place Park

One of the first big steps of the construction is to make sure the park stays green.

It takes a view from above to see how much of the 66 acres in the Gathering Place is covered in trees; there are thousands of them.

Some will stay and some will go during construction of the park.

The plans call for open spaces surrounded by trees - far more than what's there now.

The Kaiser Foundation is planting 4,300 new trees and taking extreme precautions to save the best trees already there.

10/20/2014 Related Story: Landscaping A Gathering Place: Over 4,000 New Trees To Be Planted

The park has been designed around them.

Ken Preaus, with Preaus Landscape said, "We estimate some are maybe up to a couple of hundred years old. There are some magnificent specimens out in the area. Those trees tell Tulsa's story, they're legacy trees and they warrant protection."

Preaus' company is in charge of protecting those trees.

The size of the job, and the scope of the protection work, is getting attention from professional organizations as a model example of urban forestry.

"It's a major commitment by the Kaiser Foundation to preserve the native woodland resources on site. It's an amazing commitment. They have taken so many precautions, and they've spent a lot of money to do it," Preaus said.

He said special lightweight equipment will be used around trees during construction and anything heavy, including new trees, will be lifted into the property with cranes.

All of the trees that are cut will be mulched or sawed up for lumber and made into something used on site.

The Kaiser Foundation said about 500 of the best trees will be saved, and the biggest ones will be landmarks in the park.

The first new trees will be planted a year from now.