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The landmark white oak at Heritage Mall, about 300 years old, is in good health despite a severe pruning early in September, an arborist has told the mall management.

General Manager Donna R. Green said today a certified arborist from Lake Oswego examined the tree on Sept. 27 and informed her that the tree will live.

"Steve F. Goetz gave me a verbal opinion when he came to look at the tree," she wrote in an e-mail to the Democrat-Herald. "He will be providing us with a management plan to help the tree grow, not die, and to fertilize it along with other steps we can take to protect the tree."

Some worried about the tree's future after two large limbs broke off and Larry McDonald of Trinity Tree Service was called in to remove a number of rotten branches. Green wanted to be sure that no branches would fall on parked cars or customers walking by.

After the pruning, Vernon Esplin of Buena Vista Arbor Care Co., who had cared for the tree for about 13 years, and Albany City Forester Craig Carnagey voiced concerns that the tree was cut back so much that its health and life span were in doubt.

The white oak is one of Albany's seven designated "Heritage Trees."

Green is delighted with the arborist's report because it means the tree will be decorated for the holidays as usual.

"We will now have a policy in place that only one arborist will touch that tree," Green wrote.

Following the pruning, she reported, the mall received a number of comments about the condition and looks of the tree.

Several people in business community told Green they sympathized with her about liability and safety issues concerning problem limbs on a large tree on private property near where people walk.

The trimming also prompted a number of letters to the Democrat-Herald from people upset with the way the tree looked.

The mall tree was designated as a Heritage Tree in 1999. It is also known as ther "the messenger oak" because years ago, people left messages for each other in one of the tree's crevices.

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