Washington County

Sequoia gets new life in Anna & Abby's Yard

FOREST GROVE, Ore. (KOIN) -- One of the oldest and largest trees in Forest Grove was removed this week, but the wood from the giant sequoia will be used to honor 2 young girls who were killed while playing in a leaf pile in 2013.

The 148-year-old sequoia was nearly 200 feet tall and stood over the Fitzgerald family house for 6 generations. Its size and roots were lifting the foundation of the historic home on the property, leaving the Fitzgeralds no choice but to remove the tree.

During a storm last year, a branch broke off and hit the home.

"Our kids sleep upstairs, so it was really scary," Kari Fitzgerald said. "We just knew at that time we had to make the decision to do it."

Though the sequoia is no longer upright, it's getting a second life directly across the street at Rogers Park. The City of Forest Grove will use 41,000 pounds of wood chunks to help build a special spot in the nature play area at Anna and Abby's Yard.

The sisters were killed in a tragic accident in front of their house near Rogers Park. Anna and Abby's Yard is being built in their memory.

Tabitha Fitzgerald, who was close friends with Anna, said it feels really special to know her family tree will end up honoring her friend.

"I'm really glad it can go toward remembering her because it was just really hard because she was right there and then the next day she wasn't," Tabitha said Friday.

Her mom Kari said a few of the bigger pieces of the sequoia will be sculpted by a wood artist into giant acorns that can be touched and played on.

There's also a large beehive in one of the chunks, and beekeepers plan to move the hive to the nearby Fernhill Wetlands as an exhibit to teach kids about bees.

Removing the tree was bittersweet. But the tree lives on, just in a different way, across the street.

Anna & Abby's Yard will hold its 3rd annual LoveRocksRun, a 5K event on June 30. Proceeds go to funding for the project.

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