600-Year-Old White Oak Tree Being Cut Down In Basking Ridge

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Television news helicopters hovered over the scene about 30 miles west of NY.

The 600 year old White Oak that stands in Bernard, New Jersey has died and is being cut down.

One of the oldest oak trees in North America is being cut down.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez). In a photograph taken Friday, April 21, 2017, a street sign warns motorists of upcoming work to remove a 600-year-old white oak tree, back, at Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards, N.J. Crews are scheduled to remove th. They were due to return to the church Tuesday - weather permitting - to continue the process, which is expected to be completed by Wednesday.

The tree has stood witness to history and milestones since the town's inception in the 1700s.

For hundreds of years, the imposing white oak tree has watched over the community and church, providing protection from the blazing summer sun, serving as a scenic backdrop for thousands of photos and - according to legend - Gen George Washington held a picnic with the Marquis de Lafayette at the site.

White oak trees have an average lifespan of 300 years, but have been known to live to around 600 years in the U.S.

These developments prompted city officials to remove it before it it falls and causes damage to the church, built in 1717, or the cemetery headstones in the graveyard in which it is part.

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Its death was likely due to its age. Arborists determined it wouldn't be able to withstand many more harsh winters or spring storms.

'It just kind of feels like a part of the town is dying with it, ' one resident told CBS previous year.

Crews started the task Monday at the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Bernards.

"It has been an integral part of the town, that's for sure", said Jon Klippel, a member of the church's planning council. "We've been blessed to have it here".

Some tree fans visited the tree to say goodbye to their close friend.

Despite the tree's condition, some Bernards, New Jersey, residents were stumped as to why it needed to be removed.

The old oak will be replaced by an offspring that has already grown to 25 feet tall.

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