Dallas Contractor Mulches Texas' Champion Black Willow Tree. Oops.

The tree in question (after).
The tree in question (after).
Ben Sandifer

"City loses historic tree at White Rock Lake Park," that's the headline on a statement sent out by the city regarding the loss of the biggest black willow tree in Texas, which, until January 30, had lived at White Rock Lake for more than 170 years.

You'd think, reading that, that the tree was felled by some quirk of nature or a rogue lumberjack. While it's true that the tree was heavily damaged in a storm last October, it was actually city contractors, sent to the lake to grind up tree stumps to make terrain safer, that destroyed the tree without city permission.

"The City intends to seek remediation from the contractor, and to prevent this type of occurrence from happening in the future, the department is implementing additional controls for the work performed by the contractor. Specifically, the contractor will secure written permission from DPR for the removal of stumps more than 24 inches in height not already on the approved list. This new procedure will enable better on-site communication between DPR and the contractor to avoid another unfortunate incident like this in the future," the city said.

Paul Sims, a member of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board, summed up frustration about the tree's demise succinctly on Twitter:

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