Friday is Arbor Day in Vermont, and it’s an opportune time to start thinking big and hugging a tree.
The Morristown Conservation Commission and the Morristown Centennial Library are hoping to get people out into the woods — or just their backyards or the side of a road — and see who can find the biggest tree in town.
The contest runs through the spring, and the library and conservation commission will have prizes for those who identify the town’s top trees.
Morristown Centennial Library and the Morristown Conservation Commission are holding a Big Tree Contest.
Designed for all ages to participate, contestants will scour the town and enter pictures and measurements of their big tree selections. The tree with the largest circumference measured at four and a half feet above the ground will win.
Tree hunters can enter the contest on the library website, centenniallibrary.org, or pick up an entry form in person. The library is also offering Arbor Day tree planting kits from the Vermont Department of Libraries, which include a sugar maple seed and a tree scavenger hunt.
To kick off the big tree hunt, Brent Teillon with the conservation commission thought it would be good to start with an easy to find big maple, growing on his neighbor’s property on Earl Grey Road.
Four generations of the Snow family wrapped a measuring tape around the sugar maple on the property of Dick and Edna Snow. Edna was there with son Bob, grandson Richard and great-granddaughter Willow. (Editor’s note: Bob Snow is Tommy Gardner’s uncle by marriage.)
The Snow’s maple measured 218 inches, or just over 18 feet.
Edna said lightning struck the tree in the early 1960s, cleaving the trunk, but not all the way through. The big beauty just kept growing outward.
The Morristown big tree contest only requires a measurement of the tree’s circumference — taken four and a half feet from the ground, either using a tape measure or string. A photo of the tree is also necessary.
If anyone thinks they’ve found a real monster, they could see how it stacks up against the biggest trees in the state. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has a database of the current largest species in the state.
However, to be entered into the Vermont Big Trees database, tree hunters are going to need some extra measurements.
The state requires circumference, just like the Morristown contest, but it also requires a measure of the height and the crown spread. The state has easy methods to measure those, using a tape measure and a yardstick, on its big tree website, bit.ly/3kBgVbU.
How does the Snow family maple stack up?
Well, it’s big, but the largest recorded silver maple in Vermont is much bigger. The reigning champion, measured last September, is located just off Putney Road in Brattleboro, and is 295 inches around, or 24 and a half feet — that’s a full six and a half feet further around.