Historic stump set aflame

Vandals char iconic Hooker Oak stump

Vandals set fire to the Hooker Oak stump last Friday (March 1), badly damaging the remains of the iconic tree at namesake Hooker Oak Recreation Area in Bidwell Park.

Annie Bidwell, wife of Chico found John Bidwell, named the giant valley oak after English botanist Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1887. At the time, the tree was thought to be the largest of its kind in the world. The oak fell 90 years later, in 1977, revealing that it was actually two trees.

Those responsible for the vandalism have not been identified. Anyone with info about the incident is asked to contact the Parks Department at 896-7800.

According to Parks and Natural Resource Manager Dan Efseaff, his staff is now looking into options to preserve what’s left of the stump. “It’s hard to believe an important piece of Chico history is falling apart right in front of our eyes through this thoughtless act,” Efseaff said.