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Chatham County presents awards honoring grand trees

Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - Nine spectacular trees across Chatham County received the first annual Grand Tree awards during the Sept. 20 meeting of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners. The awards are sponsored and coordinated by the Grand Trees of Chatham, a volunteer board appointed by the county commissioners.

A selection committee determined winners from nominations submitted earlier this year. Trees were recognized in two categories: champion and meritorious trees. The program requires that the nominated trees be native trees or trees naturalized to Chatham County.

"The Grand Trees Awards Program is a way to bring attention to trees and all the great things they do in our communities like filtering drinking water, cleaning our air, saving heating and cooling costs, and raising property values," said Stacy Gray, chair of the Grand Trees of Chatham.

The winners, their overall height and their owners are:

  • Champion Eastern Red Cedar (77 feet tall), Mays Chapel Baptist Church, Bear Creek
  • Champion Black Oak (95 feet tall), Robert Smith, Moncure-Pittsboro Road, Moncure
  • Champion Post Oak (82 feet tall) and Meritorious White Oak (84 feet tall), Jimmy and Audrey Schwankl, Thompson Street, Pittsboro
  • Champion Willow Oak (90 feet tall), Johnny and Ann Glosson, Highway 87 North, Pittsboro
  • Champion Bitternut Hickory (130 feet tall), Ronnie and Stephanie Lilly, River Road, Pittsboro
  • Champion Southern Red Oak (120 feet tall), Andy Upshaw, Pittsboro
  • Meritorious White Oak (88 feet tall), Judy Hogan, Moncure-Pittsboro Road, Moncure
  • Meritorious White Oak (104 feet tall), Ray and Joni Pavlik, Center Grove Church Road, Moncure
The tree size involves a specified formula that includes more than just height. The champion category uses the point system established by North Carolina's Champion Big Trees program and the National Register of Big Trees.

The points are assigned based on the tree size formula and age for its species. “To be recognized as a Chatham County Champion Tree, our rules currently require that a tree must equal or exceeds 75% of the current state champion tree,” said Walton Haywood, vice-chair of the Grand Trees of Chatham.

The meritorious category allows the selection committee to recognize special trees that do not yet meet the requirements of a champion, but could do so in the future. These might include trees tied to a special place or event; trees that represent exemplary selection of their species, taxa, or cultivar well suited to the site, proper planting techniques or good maintenance practices; exceptional shape, color or form; excellent quality trees saved by developers; and trees that have particular significance to our community.

“We did not have any winners in the historic and landmark tree categories this year due to lack of nominations. We urge residents to submit in these two important categories next year,” Haywood said. “Historic trees must be at least 50 years old and be associated with a significant historical event or location. Landmark trees are natural groupings or communities of trees, such as a mature stand of maples or white pines.”

Award-winning owners received a commemorative certificate and a plaque for the tree designating it a Grand Tree of Chatham.

For more information on qualifications and nomination forms for the Grand Trees of Chatham, click here. Or send an email to: grandtrees@chathamnc.org.

 
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