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U.S. Forest Service Killed "Prometheus," World's Oldest Tree



(p. D9) Great Basin's . . . big draw--trees about as old as Egyptian hieroglyphics--sits at the top of the sky island in Wheeler Peak Bristlecone Grove.


. . .


At the grove, a stand of weather-battered bristlecone pines await, just as they have for between 3,000 and 4,000 years. With their knobby trunks and gnarled branches, the trees look like characters in an animated film's enchanted forest, ready to burst into song. They often have only a small strip of bark, with the rest of the trunk bare, exposing the smooth, rich browns, yellows and grays in its fine grain.

At one time the oldest known tree in the world lived here. Its dignified appearance earned it the name Prometheus. In 1964, two decades before Great Basin became a national park, a researcher, trying to collect data about the area's climate history, drilled into defenseless Prometheus (not knowing its exact age) to examine its rings. When his coring instrument got stuck, the Forest Service felled the tree to retrieve his tool-- only to discover that the tree was 4,900 years old.

Oops.



For the full story, see:

JIM ROBBINS. "In a Strange Land; One of the country's least-hyped nature preserves, Nevada's Great Basin National Park has a weird, wild beauty all its own." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., MARCH 11, 2017): D9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 9, 2017, and has the title "A Hike Through America's Otherworldly Outback.")






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