Video: How a tree was saved

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/28/2006 6:25:40 PM ET 2006-06-28T22:25:40

Trees so old they moan, born during the dark ages, before all the kings of England or France. Rex Ziak loves the ancient trees in Teal Slough. They're his neighbors. Most around his home in southwestern Washington state are gone.

"I watched the forest disappear and disappear," Ziak says.

These few were next. The son of a logger wanted to save them.

"And I realized, 'This is it, nobody else is going to do anything about it, so I'll try to do something," Ziak says.

But Bill Gordon, the man who would decide the fate of this little patch, lived in Boston, 3,000 miles away.

"If I can't get him to come out and see the tress, what I will do is take the trees to Boston," Ziak says.

The professional photographer lugged his camera down a logging road that had already been punched in to start the cutting. He was determined to find a picture that could persuade Gordon to halt the chain saws. But how to get him to look? Rex agonized over the note he would send, then measured the old cedar with a rope, and mailed the cord — all 38 feet — to Gordon.

Dotson: What did you think when you got this rope in a brown paper sack?

"Well, I was very suspicious because I was concerned that it could be a bomb," Gordon says.

Dotson: "He let the tree do the talking."

Gordon: "That sure did."

Dotson: "That's got to tell you something."

Gordon: It's a huge tree, that's what."

So his company, John Hancock, sold the towering cedar and its neighbors to the nature conservancy. Now they will never be lost.

"Mr. Gordon felt about the Earth as I do," Ziak says.

When Bill Gordon retired, he left all of his company awards behind.

"But I did bring the rope and that photograph," Gordon says.

As a reminder of what one man can do.

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