Mackinac Island State Park removes famed 100-year-old elm tree

As a matter of public safety, Mackinac Island State Park staff removed the iconic elm tree at the entry to Marquette Park on Mackinac Island on Wednesday, March 14.

The tree, more than a century old, posed a significant safety risk. Its branches extended out over both Main and Fort Streets, as well as over benches and structures in the corner of the park. Through meetings with an arborist, consultation with staff, and history of similar elms on Mackinac Island, the tough decision was made to remove the tree.

“Our first priority is public safety,” said Phil Porter, Mackinac State Historic Parks director. “This lovely tree, which was planted in the early 20th century, was very fragile has been losing large limbs for some time.”

Several efforts were made to save the tree over the years, including trimming large branches and re-fertilizing the area, but the tree was simply no longer safe to keep up.

“It was a hazard,” said Mackinac Island State Park Manager Sue Topham. “There was simply too much of a chance that a big branch could come down at any time.”

The plan moving forward, after the tree comes down, is to grind the stump below the surface and stabilize the site for the near future. Staff will inspect the tree to see if the wood will be salvageable for future projects.

“We will soon be looking at plans for re-landscaping the area so that it can continue to be an attractive entry point into Mackinac Island State Park,” Porter said.

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