HARVARD, Ill. (CBS) — Conservationists are working to preserve and shelter a 400-year-old white oak, found in an untouched area just south of Harvard, Ill., near the Wisconsin state line.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Lisa Haderlein, executive director of the Land Conservancy of McHenry County, says the white oak is 55 inches in diameter and 14 1/2 feet around. It is growing on a 17-acre plot that did not get plowed over for farmland or a drainage ditch.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“They left that alone, and so this tree has been able to grow; survive since the 1600s,” Haderlein said.

She calls the tree “our Sequoia.”

She says arborists and volunteers are coming to cut away dead wood and clear out invasive brush, and turn that oak forest into a 17-acre gateway park for the town of Harvard.

Cutting away dead limbs will decrease weight stress on the canopy of the tree, and reduce the chance that strong winds could adversely affect the tree’s structure.

The arborists will donate a full day of time and equipment on Jan. 19, beginning at 9:30 a.m., to give the tree its proper care.

The Land Conservancy is also accepting tax-deductible donations for the project. The cost to buy the land, restore the oak groves, and create a permanent endowment for the property is $190,000, of which only $35,000 has been raised so far.

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