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Big Tree winners announced
COUNTY — Throughout the spring, summer and fall, nominations have been coming in to the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District office, telling where folks thought the “biggest” trees were located.
And all spring, summer and fall, Maine State Forester Merle Ring and Project/Program manager Michele Windsor have followed their directions to try to get all of these “Big Trees” measured.
Participants went in search of the largest tree in each of the 66 native species of conifer and broadleaf trees. While some of these trees indeed grow to a very large size, like the oaks and pines, others may never attain any great stature, like the willows and serviceberries.
In this, the first year of the search, they got many of the really big species. In fact, there are three State Champions that were re-measured and six more trees were found that will be competing for State Champion.
But the piece of this contest that has become really important to everyone involved is the finding of a very big, beautiful American Chestnut tree that appears to be in good health.
According to the Forest Trees of Maine Centennial Edition 1908-2008, “Most of the chestnut trees in Maine have been destroyed by the chestnut blight fungus, Endothia parasitica. There are national efforts underway to develop blight-resistant trees of this once very important tree species.” Not only is the American Chestnut a fast-growing tree, but it provides food for many native animals such as the white-tailed deer and turkey. The wood was used for telephone poles, railroad ties, beams, furniture and fence posts.
The other "gem" re-discovered was a beautiful little spot called Ordway Grove. Located right in Norway village, it was home to two of the winning trees - the Eastern White Pine and the Eastern Hemlock.
The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast describe this area as “the greatest living symbol of Maine.” The ages of the trees are estimated at between 200 and 350 years old.! Managed by the Twin Town Nature Club, the grove is an amazing area of vast, huge trees of several species.
Working to keep the trails clear and provide clear signage is a difficult task and any willing volunteers should contact the Twin Town Nature Club by calling the Norway Town Office at 743-6651.
Another tree noticeable by its absence from the “found” list in this year’s contest was the American Elm, another species that has been decimated by disease. There are five disease-resistant American Elms present on the Common of the First Baptist Church on Paris Hill, but they were planted within the last decade and time will tell if they can fight off the disease.
So the contest will begin again next spring and hopefully some more great trees will be “found” and brought to the office's attention. For more information and a list of the 66 native trees they’re seeking the largest of, go to www.oxfordswcd.net and follow the links or call 743-5789, ext. 111 and they’ll be happy to email (or snail mail) a copy to you. So here they are! Of the 26 nominations, 18 big trees in native species were found.
Species Town Nominator
Ash, White Waterford William Colbath
Aspen, Bigtooth Norway Ingrid Small
Basswood, American South Waterford John and Karen O’Brien
Birch, Paper Stow Patrick DeArmott
Butternut Buckfield Root Star Farm Sanctuary
Cedar, Northern White Buckfield Root Star Farm Sanctuary
Chestnut, American Hebron Ann Seikman
Hemlock, Eastern Norway MacKenzie Federico
Hickory, Shagbark Buckfield Root Star Farm Sanctuary
Maple, Silver West Paris Lori Dean
Maple, Striped Byron Wayne Searles
Maple, Sugar Oxford Claudette Pierce
Oak, Chestnut Buckfield Root Star Farm Sanctuary
Oak, Northern Red Lovell Fred M. Mitchell
Oak, Swamp White Paris Burmeister
Pine, Eastern White Norway Federico, Hall, Hanscom
Sycamore, American Waterford Willoughby
Tamarack Buckfield Root Star Farm Sanctuary
The Big Tree Contest is an annual event running from May 15 to September 15 and is sponsored by the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District with support from Maine State Forester Merle Ring. For more information or to nominate a tree, please go to the website, www.oxfordswcd.net, or call 743-5789, ext. 101/111.