In the Yosemite area of California, trees can get to be big— really big.
They’re wide enough that it takes an entire family holding hands to encircle the plant, and they get so high that you can’t see where the top is.
In comparison, it’s hard to imagine there could be trees that big in your own backyard. The question then becomes, “How big can Michigan trees get?”
One of the goals of ReLeaf Michigan is to answer that question.
ReLeaf Michigan is a non-profit organization that sprouted from a global program called American Forests. According to RM’s blog at releafmichigan.blogspot.com, RM consists of volunteers throughout the state who educate people on how to plant and maintain trees.
One of the RM organization’s events is “The Big Tree Hunt,” which is a national event that was started in 1993 because of Paul Thompson. Thompson was a botanist who searched for and recorded tree height. According to the RM blog, his records date back to the 1940s.
All it takes to become a national champion from Michigan is to look around and find the biggest tree you can. Then mail in the registration form found on the RM blog.
After being reviewed, your entry could be sent on to the Michigan Botanical Club Champion Tree Coordinator to be compared against other state champions.
According to the RM blog, “As of 2012, Michigan ranks 7th in the country with 27 registered National Champions.” The champions participate in the contest, which takes place every two years. This year, champions-to-be are sending in their entries before the deadline on August 1.
Granted, RM understands that there’s a good chance that the biggest tree in Michigan may not be located in areas like Grand Rapids, Lansing or Ypsilanti (especially considering the forests in the Upper Peninsula). However, that doesn’t mean that residents of urban areas can’t participate in the event.
The contest has four areas, whose winners each receive prizes:
-Largest tree of any species over 16 years old
-Largest tree of any species 15 years old and under
-Largest White Pine (Michigan’s state tree) of any age
-Largest tree of any species for each county
-Largest tree of any species that is larger than the current registered Michigan State Champion
Other RM programs include community tree planting, which is advertised on RM’s blog, “The plantings provide residents within a community an educational hands-on opportunity to learn about proper plant selection, placement … and ongoing maintenance.”
They also feature guest speakers like Lillian Dean, an arborist and master composter coordinator, who came in to speak about tree maintenance.
The main purpose of RM hosting this program is to provide people with ways to care for and maintain trees.
RM stresses the focus on trees for six main different reasons. According to their blog, trees are important for air, water and soil, biodiversity, energy, economical benefits and for building communities.
With six reasons to take care of trees, and no reason not to, RM invites you to get involved. Maybe the tree in your backyard isn’t so big that it takes your entire family to wrap around it, but with the help of RM, you could plant and grow what will one day be the biggest tree in Michigan.
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