Philadelphia's iconic Belmont Maple tree removed after being deemed a safety hazard

Arborists predict the Belmont Maple was at least 90 years old.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- One of Philadelphia's most iconic trees is being removed from the top of the Belmont Plateau on Wednesday morning.

Earlier this month, arborists announced the Belmont Maple had fallen ill. Now, it has become a safety hazard to park visitors and must be removed, officials said.

Arborists predict it's at least 90 years old. It was said to be part of a grove, which meant it was one of many.

"Right now, this is a lone soldier out here," said Lori Hayes, director of urban forestry at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, said in an interview earlier this month.

The lone soul has been a welcomed sight for sledding, track meets, picnics and weddings. Now it has become a hazard.

"It's dying. There are a lot of problems," Hayes added. "The limbs are falling, bark falling off, total compaction at the base."

City officials intend to plant three new trees in its place by the end of April. They have selected to go with black gum trees, which they say is better amid climate change.

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