Kansas Grows from 0 to 8

New rule helps state claim champion trees through national register.

| May 9, 2008

Kansas went for big trees in a big way this year, going from no national champions in 2006 to eight in 2008. Its titleholder trees are among 733 crowned in the 2008-2009 National Register of Big Trees, maintained by American Forests, the nation’s oldest conservation group, and sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Co.

The National Register of Big Trees is the biennial listing of the largest known trees of 826 species. A new rule this year that trees have to be remeasured within 10 years to remain on the list caused the most sweeping changes in the register’s 68-year history. A total of 219 new champs and co-champs were crowned in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

Six states – Delaware, Hawaii, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming – had no champs at all.

American Forests relies on public participation to find and nominate champion trees; the nominations are then verified by state coordinators and the list updated every two years. Trees receive a point total based on their height, circumference, and ¼ of their crown spread. Trees within 5 points become co-champions.

Kansas’ champion trees are: a 236-point little walnut in Barber County; two Oriental arborvitae, one in Leavenworth County, the other in Saline County; a narrowleaf cottonwood in Cheyenne County; and a dwarf chinkapin oak in Brown County. Johnson County claimed three: a 195-point western soapberry, a 40-foot-tall paper birch, and a Washington hawthorn.

The biggest of the big trees on this year’s list is again California’s General Sherman giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park – Earth’s largest living thing and a perennial champ since the first register in 1940. Standing 274 feet tall with a girth of 1,020 inches and a crown spread of 107 feet, it racks up a point total of 1,321.

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