The champion tree program has sparked interest in old, large trees across the country. These large trees give viewers not only a sense of awe, but a glimpse into history. These champion trees each have a story to tell, some that have been forgotten and others that live on in the minds of locals. One Kansas Champion Tree, for example, is known as the ‘hanging tree’. I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest of the details!
These trees give testimony to the different eras of our nation. They changed, grew, and were transformed by the circumstances of each year. Some whisper tranquility to gravestones below; those at Arlington serving as landmarks and monuments. Others have survived floods, or the droughts of the 1930’s. They suffered when the early settlers suffered, and rejoiced together with each rain in its proper season. These rugged champion trees hold honor as the toughest of the tough.
“These trees suffered when the early settlers suffered, and rejoiced together with each rain in its proper season. These rugged champion trees hold honor as the toughest of the tough.”
Growing up in the great state of Kansas, I learned very early to value trees. In our prairie state, it is rare to stumble upon one of these tree ‘giants’. The native grasslands support so many native animal species and most certainly need to be maintained; however, as a Kansan, I dream of and appreciate the grandeur of a large shade tree in summer.
When I was a youngster, I learned about tree identification and lore from my older brother, a champion identification expert in FFA contests. As he learned, so did I, and my knowledge and desire to learn also grew. Trees have a very special place in my heart; they helped shape my youth and my career. Even now, they help shape my life, giving rise to new and fresh ideas.
“Trees have a very special place in my heart; they helped shape my youth and my career.”
So what exactly is a champion tree? A champion tree is the largest tree of a certain species within a state or the nation. The State and National Champion Tree Program is managed by state forestry departments. Nominations for a tree can be submitted by anyone willing to measure a tree and send in a form.
Nominations are judged on a point system, with points for the spread, circumference, and height. Circumference is measured in inches, 4 ½ feet above the ground. Height is measured in feet, difficult to do without a laser tool, from the base of the trunk to the highest branch. Crown spread is measure in feet also, by adding two measurements at a right angle to each other, and then divided by 2 to get an average. Add the three measurements together to get the score.
If you think you have a tree worthy of champion status in your area, measure it, then send the numbers in to your state forestry service. For Kansas champions, follow this link: http://www.kansasforests.org/kansas_forest_services/championtrees.html
Enjoy your trees!
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