Kyle Martens, Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) communications specialist, says the champions program has been around for nearly 40 years.
“There are about 80 different tree species that we recognize, and that can be everything from burr oaks to cottonwoods,” Martens tells Nebraska Radio Network. “How big a tree truly is depends on the species, but we know there are big ones, we know there are old ones and they’re all across the state.”
There is no prize for having a giant tree, but Martens says you do get recognized by the NFS and the governor’s office.
“You could say there are some bragging rights, but it’s really kind of a testament to your tree stewardship.”
The forest service needs a tree’s location, height, circumference, and crown spread to rank it.
You should also stay on public property or your own land.
“A tree that’s maybe tucked back in a draw, looks like it’s next to a waterway, chances are that’s going to be on private land,” Martens says. “If that person knows the homeowner and can kind of chat with them about, you know, maybe this is worth looking into – that’s great – but you definitely don’t want to go stumble onto some’s private property and start measuring their trees.”
You can find the largest known trees in the Champion Tree Register HERE.
Guidelines for measuring and nominating a tree for consideration are HERE.