Dallas County home to champion oak tree

Published 9:55am Monday, July 29, 2013

The results are in, and it appears that the popularity of Alabama’s Champion Tree program continues to be at a high level. A total of 27 trees were nominated for 2013, and there are 12 new champions.

And, one of those new 12 champions is located in Dallas County.

An overcup oak tree, located in Dallas County on property owned by Tom Wasmer, was determined to be the largest overcup oak tree in Alabama, and therefore a champion.

champion_oakFive of these trees defeated a 2012 champion, while four filled vacancies for species that did not have a current champion. The other three tied as co-champions with current champions as their total scores are in such close proximity to each other. With the addition of these new trees — and eliminating those champions that have died — Alabama now has a total of 143 champion trees.

The purpose of the Champion Tree program is to discover, recognize and preserve the largest tree of each species in Alabama. Anyone can nominate a tree for Champion Tree designation, however, the Alabama Forestry Commission is responsible for collecting the tree’s measurements.

When determining a champion, three of the tree’s components are taken into consideration: circumference, height and crown spread. The formula used to determine the size of a tree is as follows: one point for each inch of circumference, plus one point for each foot of height, plus one point for each four feet of the average crown spread.

For a tree to be eligible for the Champion Tree program it must be a species that is recognized as native or naturalized in Alabama. A naturalized tree is an “introduced” species that has established itself in the wild, reproducing naturally and spreading.

Once a new champion is identified, both its owner and nominator receive a certificate.

AFC county personnel present the nominator with a permanent tree marker that is placed in proximity to the base of the tree. New champions are added to the Champion Trees of Alabama publication that can be found at www.forestry.alabama.gov.

If anyone knows of a tree that you think might be the largest of its species in the state, you are encouraged to send in a nomination.

To complete a nomination form on-line, visit the AFC website and click on the “Champion Tree Program” fast link found on the home page. Nomination forms are also available in county AFC offices that can be mailed or faxed. Although nominations may be sent in year-round, they must be received by the program coordinator no later than June 1, 2014, for a tree to be eligible for Champion Tree designation in 2014.

Before sending a nomination, it is encouraged to review the measurements of the current champion to get an idea if the candidate tree’s score has a chance of defeating it. After all, there are millions of “big” trees in Alabama, but to be a champion it must be the biggest.

The mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission is to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principals and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy. To learn more about the AFC or the Champion Tree program, visit www.forestry.alabama.gov.

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