Crews set to take down 600-year-old tree in New Jersey

The removal work drew lots of attention from residents of a bedroom community about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of NY and other tree fans who saw it as a chance to bid a final farewell to their close friend.

Residents of Bernards, N.J., said their farewells to a 600-year old oak tree, which is slated to be cut down Monday.

The dead tree, believed to be the nation's oldest white oak, now stands at over 100 feet tall.

The beloved giant white oak, located among headstones in Basking Ridge church graveyard, was cut down after it died past year.

A huge yellow crane was seen towering over the tree as a helmat-clad worker moved about its centuries-old limbs. They were due to return to the church Tuesday - weather permitting - to continue the process, which is expected to be completed by Wednesday. Chopper 4 was over the scene Monday morning as crews began removing the relic outside the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Among its notable visitors was Gen. George Washington, who town officials say picnicked at the tree with the Marquis de Lafayette.

The great white oak was planted on the north end of the church property while the ancient tree is located on the south end.

These developments prompted city officials to remove it before it it falls and causes damage to the church, built in 1717, or the cemetery headstones in the graveyard in which it is part. Arborists determined it wouldn't be able to withstand many more harsh winters or spring storms.

It stands about 100 feet tall, has a trunk circumference of 18 feet, with a branch spread of roughly 150 feet.

But the tree was determined to have died previous year, leaving church officials to decide it had to be cut down. "We've been blessed to have it here".

Experts say fewer trees are replicating the old oak's 600-year lifespan.

"They will lift it up, turn and transfer it out and then lay it down on the road to make subsequent cuts so it can be put on a truck", said Jon Klippel, of Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. He says the problem can be mitigated in part if people and communities care for the trees and monitor their health.

"All my children went to Tree House [the preschool on church property]", said nearby resident Lisa Dudzik. It now stands about 20 feet tall.