The government won’t even release a photo of the tree
Image via CC (credit: Rick Goldwaser)
There’s a secret branch of government you’ve never heard of and this one has deep roots. One of the world’s oldest trees, a Great Basin bristlecone pine, is about to turn an amazing 4,847-years-old. “Methuselah,” named after the longest living character in the Bible, is located somewhere in California’s Inyo National Forest. But beyond that, its exact location remains a protected government secret.
That’s because the National Forestry Service doesn’t want someone walking up and damaging the ancient tree, or even worse, chopping it down. Sound crazy? It’s not. That’s because it already happened once about 50 years ago. In 1964, Donald Currey accidentally chopped down another bristlecone pine named Prometheus. His tree corer became stuck in the pine and a park ranger helped him chop it down. They didn’t realize they had unintentionally made bad history until they started counting the tree’s rings and realized it was nearly 5,000-years-old. In fact, the Forestry Service estimates there are far older trees, probably within the same park, which just haven’t been identified yet.
But they’re not taking any chances with Methuselah. The department won’t even release a photo of the tree out of fear it could inspire some misguided individuals or groups to vandalize the historical landmark or turn it into some kind of political statement. They don’t even want overly eager nature enthusiasts popping by to snap a photo for sharing on social media feed.
“If you are so focused on seeing that tree, you are literally missing the forest for the tree,” Debra Schweizer, a spokeswoman for Inyo National Forest, told the New York Times.