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The Parklands

Lightning-Proofing Goliath

It’s hard to miss the towering Burr oak while exploring the rooms within the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden, but there is one case in which we hope it is missed. When spring showers arrive, lightning poses a frequent threat to the aptly named Venerable Oak, as well as to trees throughout The Parklands. In mid-February, arborists with Limbwalker Tree Service spent an afternoon installing a lightning protection system on the large oak tree, which has quickly become one of the garden’s most recognizable features.

Much like a lightning rod on a home, a lightning protection system on a tree involves installing a conductor—in this case a copper cable—to detract the lightning away from the tree itself. Arborists run the cable up one of the largest branches of the tree. The bottom end of the cable runs down the trunk and into a grounding rod placed a short distance from the tree base.

“I’ve seen big trees get struck by lightning, and they instantly start to decline and die,” said Aaron Boggs, Natural Areas & Horticulture Director for The Parklands of Floyds Fork.

Trees that survive a lightning strike can endure permanent damage or take years to recover.

Installing the conductor does not fully prevent the tree from being hit by lightning, but it will help lower the risk of damage should a strike occur. With nearly 4,000 acres of parkland to care for, it’s not feasible to lightning proof every tree, but special care is being taken to protect this centerpiece of the Woodland Garden.


Prior to installation, Stephan Zimmerman, a Board Certified Master Arborist with Limbwalker Tree Services, helped evaluate the tree to determine the best location for the rod. Thanks to the design of the garden’s creators, visitors are treated to an almost 360-degree view of the oak tree, which made the rod difficult to hide in the leafless winter. Once the spring leaves grow in, and the shine of the rod begins to wear, it will blend in with the surroundings. But some prefer it remain visible.

“I think it’s good to show that we are trying to protect this very special specimen,” said Boggs.

Like the rest of the park, we hope to see the Venerable Oak standing strong for the next 100 years and beyond.


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About the Author

Picture of Anna Rosales-Crone

Anna Rosales-Crone

As Manager of Marketing and Communications, Anna Rosales-Crone manages internal and external communications strategies for The Parklands, as well as marketing to promote facility rentals, educational programming, fundraising and overall park awareness. Anna was hired as Communications Coordinator in May of 2015 to help build awareness of the newly constructed park by managing The Parklands brand, website and social media. Prior to joining The Parklands team, she worked in communications at the American Red Cross for five years where she grew the Louisville Area Chapter’s digital and social media presence while supporting public relations, marketing and special events. She also provided public affairs support and guidance during major disaster operations. Anna is a graduate of the University of Evansville where she met her husband and the second love of her life—traveling. She also enjoys hiking, reading, baking, dancing, going to concerts and hanging out with her two cats. Contact me about: media relations, photo requests and website.