Trees threatening old church removed

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The grounds of St Patrick’s Church at Burkes Pass have a new look, thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers.
Burkes Pass Heritage Trust chairwoman Jane Batchelor said arborist John Baxter, who had worked on two large pine trees at the church previously, returned recently to ‘‘reduce their height significantly and also remove overhanging and dangerous looking branches’’.
‘‘The trees were within two to three metres of the fragile, historic, wooden church so required his expertise to safely dismantle the trees by climbing to the top and cutting off small pieces at a time,’’ Ms Batchelor said.
‘‘It was rather nerve-racking to watch, as these heavy branches were very close to the recently installed, precious leadlight windows.’’
Two large pine trees were felled and a large branch of a third tree removed.
‘‘The Burkes Pass Heritage Trust has been reluctant to fell these trees as they have been part of the landscape at the church for virtually all its life — 144 years — and their huge size has given a sense of both age and proportion to the relatively tiny wooden building,’’ Ms Batchelor said.
‘‘However, the trees have been disfigured over the years by pruning and damage from snow breakage, and the risk of retaining them had become too great.
‘‘We are using the green slash from the trees to mulch the church garden and replacement shelter trees. We hope to sell the pine cones at the gate and the wood when split for firewood as a fundraiser.’’
The heritage trust is an incorporated charitable trust established in 2000 to secure the future of St Patrick’s Church and promote local heritage in Burkes Pass.
In 2001, the trust commissioned a plan for the village by Graham Densem, an urban planner familiar with Burkes Pass.