I’ve always been a tree guy, whether it’s climbing them as a kid, drawing them in school, planting them as a homeowner, building a tree house in them for my kids, and occassionally hitting them as a mountain biker — trees are a common denominator to every phase of my life.
In each place I’ve lived I have very specific memories of trees, their shape, their leaves, their sound and even their smell — (sort of weird I guess, sorry about that). The fact is, if you’re a tree guy, Kent’s a great place to live. The original Tree City has significant tree canopies in the older neighborhoods and our newer neighborhoods are off to a great start planting the next generation of Kent’s urban forest.
This time of year our tree abundance is evident by the mountains of leaves that have been piled out at the curb for City collection. Try to drive thru some of the neighborhoods that have mature trees and it’s like something out of Alice in Wonderland — the leaves are piled so high that you’re left to wonder if you shrunk because the scale is so out of proportion. It’s leaf pile-diving heaven.
With all the great mature trees that we have around town I suggested to the City’s Shade Tree Commission that we consider setting up a program to honor our favorite trees. In the last City where I worked they had a Majestic Tree program that allowed residents to nominate their favorite trees and if it met certain criteria, it was added to the City’s list of majestic trees.
In the grand scheme of things, recognition as a majestic tree doesn’t really mean all that much but it is a great way to honor those trees that do so much for us and it acknowledges the influential role that trees have in defining what makes Kent, Kent. The Kent Shade Tree Commission said that rather than starting our own local notable tree program here in Kent, we should promote participation in the State of Ohio, Big Tree recognition program.
So that’s what I’m going to do. Here’s the details from the Chair of Kent’s Shade Tree Commission:
Ohio’s Big Trees
Know a big tree? A really big tree? Here’s your chance to try and get it the recognition it deserves. The Ohio Big Trees program from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry lets you nominate your favorite tree for Big Tree status. Ohio’s Big Trees program is part of a national registry of oversized trees.
American Forests, a conservation organization, based in Washington, D.C., maintains the Big Trees registry. The registry now has 826 trees from across Ohio—including 11 national champion Big Trees. The organization began cataloging the largest known specimens of native and naturalized trees in the country in 1940.
They are always looking for more. And you can help. Check out parks, cemeteries, arboretums and even your own back yard. You might find a champion just waiting to be recognized. But you can’t rely on your eyes alone. You will need to take some measurements. Each Big Tree submitted for consideration is scored on the basis of trunk circumference, crown spread and total height. If you don’t know how to this, don’t worry. The ODNR site has a link to a page titled “Measuring a Tree.”
If you think you have found a deserving tree, click on the “Nominating a Big Tree” link and fill out the application either on line or on a printed copy of the form. ODNR foresters and other experts assess the nominated trees to determine whether they are eligible for Big Tree status.
So put on your walking shoes, gather your measuring equipment, and start looking. You just might find a winner.
For more information on the Big Trees program, go to http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/4806/Default.aspx
Audrey Cielinski Kessler
Kent Shade Tree Commission