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Grand Trees of Chatham to increase appreciation of county's valuable and irreplaceable trees

By Stacy Laughters
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC - The Grand Trees of Chatham, a newly approved advisory board of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, invites county residents to nominate extraordinary trees (individual trees or groups of trees) to be recognized through a new awards program.

The Grand Trees of Chatham will work to increase public understanding and appreciation of Chatham County's valuable and irreplaceable trees through the awards program and public education.

On Sept. 8, county commissioners approved the advisory board's initial roster:

· Three-Year Terms-Helen Buckner, Siler City; Jill Coleman, Northeast Chatham; and Walton Haywood, Northeast Chatham;
· Two-Year Terms-Lesa McGregor, Cary; Jody Harris, Bear Creek; Sharon Garbutt, Pittsboro; and Stephanie Lily, Pittsboro; and
· One-Year Terms-Paul Horne, Pittsboro; Stacy Gray, Southeast Chatham; and Margaret Tiano, Northeast Chatham.

The Grand Trees Awards Program is funded by an NC Urban & Community Forestry Grant for tree recognition and education initiatives. Chatham County's new program, "Grand Trees of Chatham" will focus on increasing public understanding and appreciation of the county's valuable and irreplaceable trees.

According to Walton Haywood with the Grand Trees of Chatham, the program requires residents to nominate a tree or a stand of trees. "The goal is to recognize our county's largest, oldest, prettiest, and otherwise significant trees." Nomination forms and related information on measuring trees can be found on the Chatham County website.

Property owners may nominate trees in one of four categories:
· Champion: Trees nominated for Champion status are evaluated for size and age relative to their species using an equation and point system established by state and national champion tree programs. Information can be found here.

A champion must equal or exceed 75% of the current state champion. The tree point total is calculated as: vertical height + trunk circumference (at 4.5 feet above ground) + average crown spread.

· Historic:Nominees must be at least 50 years old to qualify. The trees must be associated with a significant historical event or location..
· Landmark: This emphasizes natural groupings or communities rather than individual trees. This might include a unique stand of mature maples or white pines, for example.
· Meritorious:This category accommodates special trees in a variety of situations. The committee has some discretion in the number of award recipients for this category each year.

Nominated trees may be potential future Champion, Historic, or Landmark Trees, but some examples are:

oRecently planted trees tied to a special place or event
oPlantings that illustrate an exemplary selection of species, taxa, or cultivars well suited to the site, proper planting techniques, or good maintenance practices
oOutstanding trees with exceptional shape, color or form
oDeveloper saved trees of excellent quality

The Grand Trees of Chatham Advisory Board, appointed by the county commissioners, will administer the program and help evaluate the nominated trees. The deadline for nominating the trees for the 2010 recognition program is August 15, 2010, but nominees not selected for the 2010 awards will be carried forward for future consideration.

Trees meeting the criteria will earn the "Grand Tree of Chatham" designation. The owners will be invited to a public awards ceremony and presented a plaque that they may affix to their tree. "It is important to note that the designation is for recognition only. The owner maintains all legal rights to their tree," said Stacy Gray with the Grand Trees program.

Grand Trees of Chatham will also offer periodic workshops to educate the public on the care and benefits of all trees.

For questions about the program, information on the four categories listed above, or nomination forms visit the email or write Grand Trees of Chatham, Chatham Cooperative Extension, P.O. Box 279, Pittsboro, NC 27312.

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Grand Trees of Chatham to increase appreciation of county's valuable and irreplaceable trees

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