L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced a motion Tuesday to recognize the Santa Clarita Valley’s most famous tree, Old Glory, a valley oak that’s thought to have first spread its roots around the time the Mayflower set sail.
The Board of Supervisors approved Barger’s motion, which instructed the county’s Department of Regional Planning to initiate the nomination process for Old Glory as a Los Angeles County Historic Landmark.
Identified by county officials as a Quercus lobata, the tree became famous in 2002 after naturist John Quigley started a sit-in that November on its Stevenson Ranch branches to prevent the oak from being felled for a John Laing Homes development being built where the tree stood.
While he was ultimately removed from the tree, Quigley considered the protest a success at the time, because: a) the tree was relocated and saved; and b) he thought his two-plus months in the tree helped raise awareness for growth and development concerns.
“Designating this heritage oak as a historic landmark would be a significant victory for the entire Los Angeles community and would send the right signal to younger generations that we are committed to being good environmental stewards,” Quigley wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors, ahead of the county’s planned recognition.
Attorneys for the Pico Canyon Road development ended the sit-in Jan. 10, 2003, seventy-one days after it started, by successfully filing for an emergency court hearing that sought Quigley’s removal from the 70-foot oak.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies helped the advocate from the tree by cutting him loose from the device he used to secure himself to it. Quigley was released and not taken into custody, officials said at the time.
In a statement announcing her intention to support the recognition last month, Barger called the centuries-old oak a symbol of strength and perseverance.
“Old Glory means a lot to the community and is deserving of the protection that being a Los Angeles County Historic Landmark brings,” Barger said. “This oak symbolizes strength and perseverance. I want to make sure we take all the actions possible to preserve community assets like Old Glory. We must be good environmental stewards and I take the responsibility seriously.”
After Quigley and his supporters left, the oak ultimately was transplanted to its current home at the intersection of Pico Canyon Road and Stevenson Ranch Parkway, a move celebrated in a March 22, 2004, story in The Signal.