Chambers Bay Golf Course’s iconic fir tree might yet live

The lone tree at Chambers Bay Golf Course may soon be on the mend after being attacked with an ax earlier this week. An arborist inspected the Douglas fir Thursday and came back with good news, according to Tony Tipton, Pierce County’s project manager for the golf course in University Place.

“They believe there are some options for being able to save it,” Tipton said Thursday.

Someone took an ax to the iconic tree late Tuesday or early Wednesday. The ax took a significant bite out of the bark, exposing the tree’s innards to the elements and possibly to disease.

It’s still not certain the fir can be saved. But Tipton said the arborist planned to treat the wound with a fungicide to protect it until more permanent measures can be taken.

“I guess the human term would be a band-aid with some sort of antiseptic applied,” Tipton said, describing the initial treatment.

In the next few days the arborist will deliver a report detailing other measures that might save the tree. Tipton said one solution would involve providing some kind of structural support for the tree.

The fir has become a signature icon for Chambers Bay Golf Course, which overlooks Puget Sound in University Place. Since Chambers Bay opened last June, the tree has appeared in numerous photographs accompanying articles lauding the course.

The tree is a roosting place for bald eagles. And it’s won the hearts of some who use the Chambers Bay walking trail. Tipton said the course has received numerous phone calls from concerned people.

“There’s a certain amount of astonishment that someone would be that malicious,” Tipton said.

If the tree doesn’t survive, the county expects it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace it, if it is even possible.

County communications coordinator Ron Klein said the county has asked a private security contractor to pay special attention to the area near the fir tree.

The course was closed and gated the night of the vandalism, and security officers were patrolling the property. But it’s a big course.

“We don’t know where they came from,” Klein said of the vandals. “There are ways to get in there. We do have security in the park, but they can’t be everywhere at one time.”

In the meantime, University Place police are investigating the vandalism. And Crime Stoppers has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and charges against those responsible.

If you have information, call 253-591-5959. All callers will remain anonymous.

David Wickert: 253-274-7341