Residents transform dead oak trees into works of art

By George White for Florida Today


Bob Nolan is carving out a community history project out of dead bay oak trees in Beach Woods, a community in Melbourne Beach.

Nine bay oaks in the complex died in 2008, and one was turned into the “Tree of Life” to host 25 carvings illustrating the history and wildlife of the area. Wood from the other dead trees adds to the project now underway. There are now nine carvings, including a life-size sea turtle and an alligator eating a large fish.

“We’re not sure what killed them, but I think it was a beetle under the bark or as a result of the hurricanes of 2004. I asked them (Beach Woods) if they would let me take the other trees down and use some of this wood.” Said Bob Nolan, who completed several similar projects in his home state of Wisconsin.

Relief carvings depict the discovery of Florida by explorers, including Ponce De Leon. Other carvings will be added showing Native Americans, he said. “This is the history of the area, the South Beaches, but it actually encompasses Cape Canaveral all the way down to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge,” he said.

Nolan said he expects the project will be completed in about a year with a lot of help from volunteers who have now signed on. “We’ll see how it goes. It will go on for a while,” he said.

Nolan has a $1100 budget for materials funded by the homeowners association board of directors and has several residents pitching in and learning his craft.

Judy Rohan said she is fascinated by the project and the progress so far. “We’re the listening and learning pupils. He’s a tremendous talent,” she said.

South Beaches Breeze, Florida Today. May 26, 2010