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Something Wild: Hunting For NH's Big Trees

Do you know New Hampshire is home to seven national champion “Big Trees?” These are the largest examples of their species discovered nationwide. New Hampshire hosts the largest black locust, mountain-ash, pitch pine, eastern white pine, black spruce, staghorn sumac and black birch in the entire US. They’re among 760 champion trees documented by The NH Big Tree Program.

A recent American Forests magazine featured NH's Big Tree program and highlighted efforts by dedicated volunteers searching for the biggest trees in the state. 

Concord hosts several giants including the State champion American Sycamore prominently located at the Kimball-Jenkins estate. A walking tour of "The Big Trees of Concord"  includes several stately shade trees located in leafy neighborhoods of the State capital.

NH's big trees are not yet a big tourism magnet. But for volunteers, finding, measuring and reporting the locations of big trees becomes an obsession. Tree scores by species use a unique point system based on the sum of the height, circumference of the trunk and an estimate of the average crown spread to create a combined score - for an "apples to apples" comparison!

When measuring becomes obsession, it reveals something about our relationship to our most beloved trees. In an essay for The New York Times, author Akiko Busch writes “we may as well try to put a number to their leaves (or) assess the weight of their blue shadows on a summer afternoon.” Busch suggests perhaps we measure trees because “we know in our hearts that when they are gone, their loss will be immeasurable.”  

More on New Hampshire's big trees:

The NH Big Tree database: http://extension.unh.edu/NH-Big-Tree-Program

The story in AF magazine: http://www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/tree-tales/700-champion-trees-and-counting/

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