Diseased Torrey pine cut down, will live again as art - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Diseased Torrey pine cut down, will live again as art

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TORREY PINES (CBS 8) - There will be new life for a nearly 100-year-old tree that had to be cut down because it was diseased.

It took crews hours to cut down the huge Torrey pine at Encinitas' Swami's Park, but if you think that's where this story ends, think again.

The 85-foot-tall tree had become ravaged by bark beetles since last summer. City officials say at least 50 percent of the tree was dead and its branches looked like unhealthy twigs.

"It's always sad to lose a tree, but if it's for the good of the other trees I guess that's a good idea," Torrey pine fan Bill Spore said.

City officials tried to get rid of the beetle colony, but failed. They decided to remove it before the beetles jumped over to another nearby tree. Bark beetles feed on older trees and reproduce, which causes the tree to die from the inside out. But even with its demise, this pine will serve a purpose.

Woodcarver Tim Richards says it will take him about two weeks to turn the remaining 10-foot-high stump into a replica of the famous Easter Island totem pole head.

"The reason why I chose an Easter Island head was I thought it would make the best use of the stump. It's a pretty good-sized stump and also it wouldn't have a lot of stuff hanging off of it that could be a hazard. It's a fairly simple design and a fairly safe one," Richards said.

Woodworker Chris Platis is taking 10-foot trunk sections to mill it for use in homes and businesses.

"It's a soft wood but for pine it's pretty hard for that particular species. So it can be used for tables, cabinetry, desks. I made a bed frame out of it -- beautiful stuff," Platis said.

In keeping with the city's urban forestry policy, replacement trees will be planted on the site or within the city's parks to maintain the city's urban forest look.

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