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High winds destroy massive bur oak in Wisconsin

Back in 2013, Mark Hirsch healed his broken spirit by getting to know a giant bur oak in southwestern Wisconsin. He photographed the tree for a year, creating a book and calendar to honour the tree and chronicle a pivotal life experience.

On August 11, 2020 a massive rain and wind storm called a derecho decimated the 160 to 200-year old bur oak. "She was just reduced to rubble in the field," Hirsch told a reporter after he discovered the remains of the tree, which lived and died just outside Plattesville, Wisconsin (red pin on map).

The Champlain Oaks was in touch with Mark 5 years ago when he published the book of photographs that pays tribute to the tree.

Some people claim that "that tree" (Mark's nickname for the bur oak), which stood tall in a Wisconsin corn field, was the most famous oak in North America. Certainly, it's a prime example of how a bur oak without human restrictions can grow both up and out, creating a massive canopy. In 2017, when the tree produced a prodigious number of acorns, Mark's friends gathered and planted them to generate saplings.

More than 43,000 people have been following Mark's love affair with the bur oak on Facebook, Many thousands from around the world have expressed condolences to Mark after the tree's demise. While the bur oak offered sturdy solace to him, Mark in turn offered the human world 365 gorgeous photographs of a tree whose life and beauty will live on in his spectacular book. "That tree" gave to Mark and he gave something back to us. --Debra Huron

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