The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES, Associated Press
CHANDLER, Ariz. — When Lone Tree Golf Club's namesake cottonwood fell victim to storm winds in July, the club's staff held a contest among its golfers to decide what to do with the tree.
What turned out to be the winning idea did not come from the suggestions, however. The 113-year-old tree is being ground up to be used as fuel for the Snowflake White Mountain Power biomass plant.
Rod Pappas and the people at Xeriscapes Unlimited, a Phoenix-based landscaping firm, proposed the idea to Lone Tree owner Greg Avant.Xeriscapes also arranged for an ironwood tree, more appropriate for the location, to be planted on the site.
"One of the things I was looking for was the different and cool factor," Avant said. "Not just making tee markers out of it or something. The people at Xeriscapes had some great ideas. We kind of meshed our ideas together and came up with this. It's a nice ending to the story."
Last week, Xeriscapes employees cut up the giant cottonwood tree that was believed to have been planted in 1899 when the land on which the golf course sits was a potato farm. The golf club retained a large stump and another section of the tree as keepsakes. The club even kept some smaller slices of the tree, one of which Avant said would be used to make a trophy for a club tournament.
The rest of the tree was carted away. The Snowflake White Mountain Power plant burns scrap wood and paper sludge from nearby mills to generate electricity.
"We saw the article about losing the old cottonwood tree and thought, 'Let's see if they would like a new tree and start the cycle all over again,' " said Pappas, president of Xeriscapes Unlimited.
"We did some head banging over the idea and thought we'd ship the remains off to Snowflake and fire up the plant over there. It's kind of a win-win situation. Even though we lost a tree, we got a new one, one that I think will do better."
Pappas said two other metro Phoenix businesses are involved. Native Resources, a Phoenix firm that specializes in plant relocation and landscape construction, donated the ironwood tree that replaces the iconic tree. Gro-Well of Tempe, the state's largest recycler of green waste, is handling disposal of the downed cottonwood.
Once the land was converted from a potato farm to a golf course, the cottonwood wasn't getting enough water. The tree had been dead for about five years before it fell.
The ironwood tree needs less water and is better suited for the location. Pappas said the tree could last for as long as 1,500 years.
That kind of longevity could mean that the new tree might have the same kind of significance as the old cottonwood. Once word got out that the tree fell last summer, golfers and former residents of the area contacted Lone Tree with stories about what the tree meant to them.
Avant said one former resident of the area, now living in Ohio, called to ask for a piece of the tree and talked about how she used to sit under that tree with her grandmother, who had died recently.
"(Head golf pro Josh Janowiak) sent her a nice big branch," Avant said. "You don't think a tree touches that many lives, but it was amazing some of the stories and requests we got for it. There were a lot of surprises like that that were pretty cool. You think, 'Big deal, it was a tree,' but it meant something to a lot of people."
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com
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