Beauvoir's Live Oaks and Magnolia Trees Being Threatened

The director of Beauvoir says one of the historic site's most valuable assets is in jeopardy. Bob Hawkins says many of the large live oaks and magnolia trees that cover the grounds may not survive another summer of drought.

Beauvoir has already lost several large trees within the last year, and officials say there is little to do except hope for the best. A huge section of one live oak tree fell without warning last summer while Beauvoir director Bob Hawkins was giving a tour. It's one many trees suffering and falling after two years of drought.

"We had no clue that there was any problem with it," Hawkins said. "It was green. It was producing leaves. Indicated no difficulty whatsoever until it fell."

Now, Hawkins fears the unknown and is worrying more trees are in danger. To help keep them alive, workers are cutting away vines that compete with the trees for water and nutrients and doing as much watering as they can afford. However, with 52 acres and no irrigation systems, groundskeepers can only significantly water about five percent of the area. They say the only real solution is a long hard rain.

The trees are important to some visitors too. They say while they enjoy the museum and the ocean breezes, it's the trees that make the place stand out.

"The trees are actually the magnificence of the place," said Shery Jackson, a visitor from Galveston, Texas. "I keep thinking every time I pass one of these live oaks if only the trees could talk. What could they tell us?"

Bob Hawkins says damaged or dying trees are more than an aesthetic loss; they're a danger to public safety and history. Falling trees could endanger visitors. Last year when part of a large oak collapsed, it caused extensive damage to the main house on Beauvoir.

by Danielle Thomas