Oh, no, can this tree be saved??? (photo links)

Hi, we had one of our nicest pines hit by lightening yesterday. I took some pictures to see if people think it can be saved. It's split from top to bottom, but the reason I have some hope for it is that 1) it's only split, not exploded, and 2) this tree has 3 leaders, and only one seems to have been damaged.
I took some pictures for people to see the damage. I left them full size, so you'll have to scroll down, but I cropped as much extraneous material from the photo as I could to keep file size down. Some have notations added in the photo.
(
http://www.metrocast.net/~randall/pine-upper.jpg ) This is about 1/2 way up, showing the typical damage running from top to bottom. I have indicated the three different leaders with arrows.
(
http://www.metrocast.net/~randall/pine-trunk.jpg ) This is the base of the trunk. As you can see, it's quite wide, maybe 24" diameter, so it's an old tree. You can see where the bolt went into the ground. :(
(
http://www.metrocast.net/~randall/pine-trunk2.jpg ) Here's the trunk a little higher. This photo shows the two main leaders and the damage coming down the one on the left. The leader on the right splits again right above the top margin of the photo.
Ok, so what's the verdict? Can we remove the damaged leader and save the two remaining ones? They wouldn't be a danger to fall into the yard like the damaged one, because they lean toward the woods. I thought they might be able to cut it right where the first split is and paint the damage to the bark below that with something to protect it.
We plan to have a professional come and do something for it some time before winter (when is best?), but I'd like to know what bad news we're in for ahead of time. I really don't want to lose it completely, because not only do I like it, but it offers some valuable privacy from a nearby horse trail.
Thanks,
Kristen
-- "Who is the patriot, I ask you? Those who wrap themselves in the flag and pledge allegiance to it, or those who keep the pledge and wrap themselves in what the flag represents?" -Ira Glasser
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I've no idea if it can be saved or not, but those sure are some impressive pictures.
I bet the tree could still be a nice though cracked tree for many years to come. At some point rot would get to it & it'd eventually have to be taken down as a danger. That could takea decade or longer. If you love it enough, it might be worth a consultation with a local arborist to get a practical plan just for the lightning tree.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Kristen wrote:

You'll probably need to keep the tree sprayed with Lindane (or Dursban or Cygon?) until it heals to keep Pine Bark Beetles out. They can smell a stressed pine tree and will quickly attack and kill it.
You can ignore this if you live someplace where there are no pbb's.
Good luck, Bob
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snipped-for-privacy@metrocast.null (Kristen) expounded:

The real damage isn't as obvious. The lightning 'boils' the sap of the tree. It will look like it's going to make it for awhile, but most likely at least that leader will die back to the base. I had a pine in my backyard that looked just like that....it 'burst' when hit, but went right back together again, within a year it was dead. Same with the pine down around the corner, but that one took two years to die.
--
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
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The only one who can provide that information is a certified arborist. We can certainly provide opinions but there is much more to this than meets the eye with photos (as several previous posters have pointed out) and only a qualified professional well-versed in tree hazard analysis is in the proper position to judge. Don't wait until winter before calling them in - the sooner the better.
pam - gardengal
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Its hard to say. Some years back I had a large long leaf pine get hit with lightning, and it knocked the top off, and blew a strip of the bark off from the top of the tree all the way to the base where it blew a hle in the dirt big enough to put a volkswagon in. I had given up all hope for that tree, but its still kicking and doing fine 15 years later. I have had other trees not fair so good.
If it does not present a hazzard, I would trim any damaged limbs to a proper pruning cut and wait and see what happens. Visit my website: http://www.frugalmachinist.com Opinions expressed are those of my wife, I had no input whatsoever. Remove "nospam" from email addy.
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Ok, thanks for the tips! We'll have somebody come look at it as soon as we're able.
Thanks,
Kristen
-- "Who is the patriot, I ask you? Those who wrap themselves in the flag and pledge allegiance to it, or those who keep the pledge and wrap themselves in what the flag represents?" -Ira Glasser
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