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North Carolina conservation group works to preserve ancient tree

Data pix.

DURHAM, N.C. -- When we think of ancient things, we tend to think they’re all in Europe, the Middle East or maybe Asia.

But what if you learned there are things that old just down the road?

In the Black River basin, there are trees that are at least 2,624 years old and, likely, much closer to 2,800 years old.

“The Bald Cypress is the 5th oldest species of tree in the world,” said Hervey McIver, who works for the Nature Conservancy in Durham.

The Nature Conservancy is working to keep lands in their pristine condition so they can be preserved.

The conservancy recently acquired a piece of land that has a 2,624-year-old tree on it, according to Dr. David Stahle, of the University of Arkansas.

Stahle determined how old the tree is the old fashioned way by counting the tree rings. He just did that in a very scientific way.

“You take the increment bore, screw it into the tree – you're aiming for the middle – and you're hoping for a solid trunk at that point, pull out a cork no bigger than the diameter of a pencil,” McIver said. “Then, Dr. Stahle takes it back and studies past climate patterns from hundreds of thousands of trees from many places. One thing he came up with is that the two worst droughts in this part of the world...coincided with the Lost Colony and the start of Jamestown.”

Stahle believes a drought from 1587 to 1589 may have had a lot to do with why the Lost Colony didn’t survive on Roanoke Island off the North Carolina coast and why the Jamestown colony struggled when it had so little rain during a much longer drought from 1606 to 1612.

Meanwhile, the land the oldest tree sits on will be well taken care of for the foreseeable future with the Nature Conservancy in charge.

“The conservancy helps protect 700,000 acres and we own 100,000 and acres and manage all that,” McIver said.

See video of that oldest tree in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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