On April 26th The NH Big Tree Program volunteers and interested community members gathered to celebrate Arbor Day with a daylong workshop focused on The NH Big Tree Program. The grounds and facilities of the Canterbury Shaker Village provided an excellent venue for an agenda of field explorations, trainings and presentations.
"Today was about bringing together current volunteers, agency resources and people who are interested in supporting the Big Tree Program," said Mary Tebo Davis, UNH Extension Field Specialist in Urban Forestry.
What is the NH Big Tree Program?
Have you ever spotted a gargantuan tree and thought to yourself "That has got to be the biggest tree I have ever seen!" Well, there's a way to find out, and NH Big Tree Program Volunteers are equipped to help you with that task.
NH Big Trees can be nominated by anyone. Once the nomination form is complete and the tree in question has been identified as a potential contender, The Big Tree Program will send a trained volunteer to get a more precise measurement and assess the condition of the tree. These measurements are then submitted to the current list of State and County champions. Any State Champs are then submitted to the National Registry of Big Trees through American Forests, and we can see how New Hampshire's trees size up.
"Forests are a huge part of New Hampshire’s ecology, economy and culture, and our trees are important for so many different reasons," said Ethan Belair, Hillsborough County Field Specialist in Forestry. Belair was onsite instructing volunteers on tree species identification and taking accurate measurements in the field. "That said, because we have so many trees, sometimes we tend to walk right by them without really looking at them. I think of the Big Tree Program is not only an opportunity for people to take part in citizen science, but a chance for people to engage with the forests they live near in a meaningful way. People who spend time engaging with trees are more likely to care about their forests and care for their forests. Plus, all the participants get to hug a tree! Who wouldn’t like that?"
A Day of Celebration and Community
Attendees of the Arbor Day workshop represented a number of veteran NH Big Tree Program volunteers as well as folks who are interested in participating in the program. Each New Hampshire County has a coordinator and tree measurers to process measurement requests, and attendees were able to share lunch with their local county teams encouraging a sense of community and excitement around the program amongst new and returning volunteers.
After a presentation on Big Trees of NH (the same title as his book), author Kevin Martin was recognized for his five years of service as the state coordinator of the Big Tree Program. In this time, Kevin has overseen major updates to the recordkeeping database, measured hundreds of trees and wrote a book encouraging people to visit big trees on public lands. “We are so grateful for Kevin’s hard work and dedication to the NH Big Tree Program,” said Tebo Davis. “We are lucky that Kevin will stay on as the Rockingham County Coordinator. He’ll be working with another wonderful and dedicated volunteer, John Wallace. Wallace is stepping up to take over the State Coordinator position.”
As the weather (hopefully, finally) warms up we look forward to hearing reports from the field!