BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The removal of the township's 600-year-old white oak tree is due to begin on Monday morning. The small portion of Oak Street in front of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Churchyard, where the oak is located, will be closed to traffic, township police said.

Oak tree's removal to take a few days

The removal of the remains of the oak tree - which predates the church's establishment and the 1760 founding of the Township of Bernardston by a few hundred years - will be a minimum of a 2 to 3 day project, said Rev. Dennis Jones, pastor of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.

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The pastor said the official start time to begin the removal of the tree will be 8 a.m. However, he said he expects people will begin gathering before then.

Officials had timed the trees removal for the week during which township schools are closed for spring vacation, which begins on Monday.

The tree, which survived numerous droughts, having its trunk filled with concrete earlier in the 20th century and being propped up with crutches, had been failing through the past year. 

By the end of last summer, following numerous inspection, it was determined to have died. 

The countdown to the tree's removal had included a church service, songs and consideration of ways to preserve a tree that is the symbol of Bernards Township.