ST. LOUIS - The trees in Forest Park aren't only beautiful, they're valued at over $23 million. This week, Debbie Smith wants to know how old the oldest tree is inside the park.
At more than 1,300 acres, it is our city's biggest treasure, and a place Peter VanLinn and Jim Morrison see a little differently than the rest of us.
It's their job to prune, plant and yes even pull up trees in Forest Park, which has more than 15,000 manicured areas. It's a big job that took root long before VanLinn and Morrison were born.
"We did lose a 105-years-old American elm behind Steinberg Ice Rink that's kind of in a hidden area. That was a tough one to see go," said Morrison.
It's really hard to tell how old a tree is until it's gone.
"Um, we've cut, at least in the last year two or three, trees that have been 80, 90-years-old," said Morrison.
But here's something they do know. Forest Park is home to two state champion trees.
"This is a cucumber magnolia. This is the state champion cucumber magnolia actually," said VanLinn.
It's a tree that stretches 81 feet wide and stands 76 feet tall.
"The method for determining a state champion is there are a lot of different measurements that are taken of the tree and then that's compared against any other known tree of that species," said VanLinn.
The other champ is a red buckeye, but those are just two of the 228 different species in the park. And these guys are constantly replanting.
"So we plant about 400 in the manicure and mowed areas each year and another 1,000 in the nature reserves each years," said VanLinn.
It not only keeps them busy, but insures this is a place your children's grandchildren will be able to enjoy.
Next week Heidi's finding an answer for Nancy Burrell. She says she passes Grant's Farm every morning and has noticed they have an abundance of white elk. So she wants to know if they have the largest captive herd of white elk in the states.