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Paramount Ranch's 'Witness Tree' Gets A Fond Farewell This Weekend

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It’s not every day a tree gets a funeral, but this weekend there will be a sendoff at Paramount Ranch for a Valley Oak believed to be more than a century old (more on that below).

Known as “The Witness Tree,” a designation park officials give trees that have been around long enough to witness historic events, the 70-foot tall tree appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows before becoming a casualty of the 2018 Woolsey Fire. That fire burned nearly 90% of the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area and turned the “Witness Tree” into a blackened husk.

The tree wasn’t cut down sooner because experts were hoping it might show signs of life -- which it did earlier last year, but unfortunately those signs proved to be fleeting.

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The tree grew on on the historic Paramount Ranch, an iconic Western set used as a backdrop since the 1920s for film and TV productions like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Westworld. Much of the backlot was destroyed in the fire.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb, 8th, park rangers and historians will be on hand to answer questions about the tree at a goodbye gathering. The event is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Those planning to attend should navigate to 2903 Cornell Road in Agoura Hills.

The tree will be cut down later, its rings counted to determine age and then the wood will be repurposed into benches, signs, hitching posts and more as part of the newly rebuilt Western Town (construction is expected to start on it within the next few years).

You can enter a contest to guess the tree’s age by sending your predictions to ana_cholo@nps.gov.

GO DEEPER: