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Moving St. Simons Island’s Beautiful Live Oaks

The southern live oak is the official state tree of Georgia and has long been a symbol of beauty and strength. So when the Sea Island Company planned the Frederica Township gated golf community on St. Simons Island, instead of removing live oaks, 900 full-size trees were relocated within the property.

Live oaks are wide-spreading trees, sometimes more than 100 feet across, and many of the specimens identified for relocation were more than a century old. With root balls thirty feet across and four to five feet deep, the trees weighed up to 300,000 pounds.

Environmental Design, the company hired to move the trees, had developed a process for dragging the trees using excavators and dozers. Most trees required two 345-size excavators and a D6 to get the job done, while some of the larger trees required three 345s, a D8 and a D6 dozer.

The root ball was wrapped to hold the dirt together, and steel pipes were hammered underneath the root ball using a Cat 320 excavator with a hammer. After the pipes were chained together, the Caterpillar 345 excavators lifted the root ball up enough to slide skidplates underneath. The pipes and skidplates were connected together by chains and the tree was ready to move. Up to three excavators and two bulldozers then pushed and pulled the tree to its new home.

More than a decade later, a dozen PGA Tour Professionals have become members at Frederica Township.

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