Big Tree Hunters Search For Champions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Big Tree Hunters Search For Champions

Play associated audio
A recently dethroned Kentucky Coffee Tree.
Donna Will
A recently dethroned Kentucky Coffee Tree.

Retired teacher Joe Howard says there's nothing quite like a really big tree. "Big trees can take your breath way. When you think of how big trees have been around longer than any of us, what they’ve been through and how they’ve weathered adversity and are still going strong, you can’t help but admire them," he says.

For the past 20 years, Joe and his friend Donna Will have been driving across Montgomery County in search of trees to nominate to the National Register, which evaluates champions for each species according to their circumference, height and spread.

Howard, a retired teacher, says there's nothing quite like a really big tree.

"Big trees can take your breath way," he says. "When you think of how big trees have been around longer than any of us, what they've been through and how they’ve weathered adversity and are still going strong, you can't help but admire them."

Will says Howard will call her when he's identified a big tree.

"I have my jeep at the ready, and my camera set, and my batteries and I hop in," says Howard. "Just about every week, we're out and about hunting the big trees."

He says he always carries his measuring tape with him.

"It's gotten me to stop traffic sometimes, if a tree is along the road," he says. And he says his proudest find was a thorny tree on the edge of Rock Creek Regional Park.

"This is a Cockspur Hawthorn," he says. "This is a tree I nominated that finally got my name in the National Register of Champion Trees."

As it turns out, Howard says another tree has dethroned his Hawthorn to become champion this year.

"In a way, I'm sad. In another way, I'm glad," he says. "I love that people keep looking for big trees."

Will says being a Big Tree Hunter isn't just about competition. It's about conservation.

"It's very important to keep an eye out for these big trees because when the public becomes aware of them, they stay safer," she says.

But Howard says he's still in it to win it. And there’s a tree down the street he's pretty sure will be a champion next year.

NPR

Box Of Love Letters Reveals Grandfather Didn't Escape WWII With 'Everyone'

Years after her grandfather's death, Sarah Wildman discovered letters from a young woman he'd left behind in Vienna in the 1930s. So Wildman set out to find her grandfather's true love.
NPR

Take A Bite Out Of Ringo: Giant Cookies Honor Pop Culture Icons

Two self-taught pastry pros specialize in hand-painted cookies of musicians and other cultural icons, from Calvin and Hobbes to Fall Out Boy. Their creations seem almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
WAMU 88.5

MoCo Council Member Wants To Treat E-Cigarettes Like The Real Thing

Montgomery County councilwoman Nancy Floreen says e-cig users should not be allowed to smoke them in places where traditional cigarettes are already banned.
NPR

Is Digital Learning More Cost-Effective? Maybe Not

Digital learning initiatives are spreading to schools across the country, but new research raises doubts about how well they work.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.