STAFFORD – Stafford Township is set to receive a new “homegrown” work of art.
The American beech tree located outside the Stafford Township Municipal Building will be the artistic base for competitive chainsaw carver Kevin Treat, who will turn the centuries-old tree into a sight to behold.
Treat most recently took home second place in the “Carve Wars” chainsaw carving competition at Tuckerton Seaport this year. You can see some of his sculptures on display at the seaport.
Estimated at 200 years old, the American beech tree has finally reached its point of no return. The tree has been overcome by bracket fungus, which causes decay and rot in trees to the point of eventual weakening and breakage, officials said.
“The tree had been treated by an arborist for several years but they informed us that it was no longer ethical to do anything more with the tree since it was in an advanced state of decay and could not be saved,” Mayor Gregory Myhre told Jersey Shore Online.
The fungus had stretched up the trunk of the tree, “which is an indicator of poor health,” Myhre added.
Coined “artist’s fungus,” the fungi has become a popular medium for many artists. Scratching on the white surface reveals a darker color underneath that creates visible, enduring images in the hand of an artist.
To prevent a safety issue, the branches have been cut off of the tree, and the trunk has since been cut down to a 10-foot stump, as requested by Treat.
Members of the township’s Environmental Commission agreed with an arborist’s assessment that the tree was no longer viable in its current condition.
Despite this, local officials have decided to turn something old and decayed into something unique and beautiful for the town to enjoy.
“While the living tree could not be saved, the carving allows us to preserve a part of Stafford’s history and create a work of art that anyone driving by could enjoy,” said Myhre. “It may cost less money to uproot or grind the stump but we would lose a piece of Stafford history forever which is far more costly.”
Treat will begin work on the tree come fall and it will take a few days to complete.
“Residents can expect to see a carving that emphasizes the natural beauty of our area,” said Myhre.