LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - A beloved tree on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been getting a lot of attention lately after one of its large branches came down.
The Friendship Oak, believed to have been here for more than half a millennium, has been the center of concern for some time for USM Gulf Park's certified arborist, and many others who love to see its majestic branches. It's one of those branches that recently gave the university, and especially Loren Erickson, quite a scare.
Erickson said the tree lost a major limb due to a wound that he believes can be tied to Hurricane Camille and a lightning strike.
Since the branch came down in August, extra measures have been taken to protect the rest of the tree, like these support beams and fencing to keep people away. But Erickson said the restrictions are going to be eased up soon.
"This area will be opened up to some degree," Erickson said. "We won't have a treehouse ramp like we used to because having that wound in the tree that would be negligent to do. But we're going to allow people to interact with the tree much more and will continue to put the woodchips down for more natural rejuvenation."
Erickson believes the tree is in good health overall and should be blessing the area with its beauty for many more years.