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Washington County tree stands among nation's tallest

May 19, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

American Forests, a national conservation organization, has added a Washington County tree to its list of champions.

The 85-foot tall Kentucky Coffetree near Antietam National Battlefield, already a Maryland big tree champion, is now a national co-champion with a tree from Ohio.

The tree was one of six Maryland trees to be proclaimed new national champions in the 2008-09 National Register of Big Trees, according to a press release from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The others include:

· An American elm in Baltimore County that, at 136 feet tall, is the tallest of all elm species national champions in the United States

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· A bigleaf magnolia in Howard County that is 55 feet tall with a 53-foot crown

· An Atlantic white cedar in Bel Air, Md., with a 127-foot circumference

· A black haw in Silver Spring, Md., that, at 26 feet tall, was named co-champion with a Virginia tree

· An American holly in Prince George's County, Md., that was named a co-champion with two other trees in Virginia

Maryland already had 12 national champions that retained their positions on the list, said John Bennett, Maryland Big Tree Program volunteer manager.

"We do pretty good for our size. And this was a nice year for us," said Bennett, who is in his first year managing the hunt for big trees in Maryland.

Bennett said he relies on a mix of nominations and footwork to offer Maryland's best trees for the competition, which he said can get pretty stiff.

"We pay attention to which champions in other states have died and look hard for those species in Maryland," Bennett said.

The state had a hand in creating the national competition, Bennett said.

In 1925, Maryland's first official forester, Fred Besley, began a three-pronged approach to measuring trees as a way to compare species across the state.

His system included height, trunk girth and average crown spread measurements, Bennett said.

In 1940, Besley's system was adopted by the American Forestry Association as the national method for measuring big trees, Bennett said.

The forestry association names new champions every two years.

To nominate a tree, send an e-mail to Bennett at mdbigtreeprogram@aol.com.

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