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Austin's legendary Treaty Oak vandalized

Metal fencing surrounds the trunk of the Treaty Oak at West Fifth and Baylor streets on Friday. The historic tree was vandalized.
Becky Fogel
/
KUT News
Metal fencing surrounds the trunk of the Treaty Oak at West Fifth and Baylor streets on Friday. The historic tree was vandalized.

The historic Treaty Oak in downtown Austin has been vandalized.

post on Reddit shows a spot on the trunk that appears to have been hacked at. On Friday, there was protective fencing and wooden posts around the base of the tree, covering up the wound.

"The Department is determining impacts and keeping the tree's health as the primary focus," a spokesperson for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said in an emailed statement. The tree at Fifth and Baylor streets may be 600 years old.

The parks spokesperson said the incident has been reported to the Austin Police Department.

According to an old folk tale, Stephen F. Austin and white settlers signed a treaty with local Native American tribes at the tree. But there is no evidence that actually happened.

This is not the first time the Treaty Oak's life has been threatened. The gigantic tree survived a 1989 poisoning with the herbicide Velpar.

A jury sentenced Paul Stedman Cullen to nine years in prison for the poisoning, which was a felony. But, as KUT has reported, Cullen denied doing it — despite physical evidence and his confession while unknowingly being recorded.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at rfogel@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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