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Massive tree spared from DOA chainsaws, transplant under consideration

A massive silk cotton tree believed to be more than a century old was spared from chainsaws over the Discovery Day weekend. 

Political hopeful, Savannah candidate Kent McTaggart managed to halt Department of Agriculture crews from cutting it down last week, in a confrontation that played out live on social media.

But eight days later, the ultimate fate of the big tree still hangs in the balance.

“Call the director then,” shouted Mr. McTaggart as he confronted workers in the widely-seen video. “Nobody’s cutting down this tree again until the director comes here, call him.”

The tense moments played out live on social media last Saturday afternoon (13 May) as the candidate for Savannah confronted chainsaw-wielding workers before they could bring the massive tree to the ground.

Eight days later, the tree is still standing, but Mr. McTaggart told Cayman 27 efforts to save the tree are just getting started.

“To me, it means more than just the tree, it’s an example of how we here today find a reason to change our landscape for the balance of our days,” said Mr. McTaggart. “I mean, this thing was here before the roads.”

“Even though [the silk cotton tree] is not native it does have some heritage value, I think, to the Cayman Islands,” said Catherine Childs of the National Trust.

She told Cayman 27 she talked to a neighbor who has concerns about large branches falling on her home.

“She said she was more than willing just to have the tree trimmed so that it was not over her yard, and didn’t require the whole tree to come down,” said Ms. Childs. 

Now, there’s talk of uprooting the tree and moving it someplace else. Dart Real Estate confirmed it was contacted last week about transplanting the tree.

Mr. McTaggart said the tree would be better off where it’s always been, unless it remains under threat of removal.

“I would hope to keep it here, but under guard. But if there’s any risk of these yahoos getting at it again, I would relent and let Dart take it because I know at least at that point it will be protected,” said Mr. McTaggart. 

Cayman 27 reached out to the Department of Agriculture for answers on why this tree was slated for removal. No reply thus far. 

Dart Real Estate replied to our inquiries with a statement, saying it is “Working with the relevant government agency and arborist consultants to see whether the tree can be transplanted.”

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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