A neighbor was taking a walk through the White Rock area of Dallas when she spotted a man cutting down an old pecan tree and loading the pieces into his trailer. Knowing something wasn’t right, she quickly called police while another neighbors blocked the man’s truck until the police could arrive.
The tree has long been a staple of the neighborhood, with its curved base and low-hanging branches. Some believe it’s an Indian marker tree, which is a tree that was purposely bent over as a sapling and was used as a trail marker or guide by American Indians, according to the Texas Historic Tree Coalition. Only six such trees exist in the Dallas area.
As neighbors caught wind of the incident, they began sharing stories and photos of family gatherings and picnics that centered around the tree. One boy touched its branches and said “my tree is hurting,” while another little girl placed a Band-Aid on the tree to “help it get better.”
When police arrived on scene, the man claimed that he had permission from the city to cut down trees that were damaged in storms, but could deliver no proof. Neighbors also had photos that proved to police that the tree had long been bent at the base and was not damaged in a storm, so it did not qualify as a tree to cut down.
Police arrested 65-year-old Albert Santos that evening and charged him with criminal mischief of more than $2,500. According to the Nextdoor post, a district supervisor for the Dallas Park and Recreation Department valued the tree at a minimum of $10,000. Santos apologized to the neighborhood and said he wished to make things right.
Despite being cut in two, the resilient tree is expected to survive. While it is no longer believed to be an Indian Marker tree after being examined by the Park and Rec supervisor, it remains an important part of the neighborhood that brings joy to neighbors, young and old.
Originally reported by The Dallas Morning News. Header image courtesy of Eastwood Neighborhood Association.
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