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New State Champion Tree Discovered In Gunpowder Falls State Park

A photo fo the Birch tree

Harford County, Md. (February 16, 2012) - Gunpowder Falls State Park can now boast a new Maryland State Champion tree. Dan Wilson, a volunteer with the Maryland Big Tree Program, recently discovered a massive sweet birch, or Betula lenta, hidden deep within the Harford County portion of the Park.

Wilson discovered the record tree approximately 100 yards north of the blue trail in the Sweet Air region of the Park. He measured the tree in at 115 feet tall, 10 feet 1 inch around and with a crown spread of 45 feet, equaling a total point value of 247. According to American Forests this is the tallest tree of its species on record. The previous sweet birch State Champion, with a point value of 237, is located in Cecil County.

The United States Champion is located in New Hampshire at 266 points. The Maryland champion appears healthy and could seize the national title in future years. The tree is also the largest of its species ever recorded in Maryland (dating back to 1925). The public is welcome to visit the tree, which is located at GPS coordinates N39 32 093 W76 29 955.

The sweet birch is native to all of Maryland north and west of I-95, the tree can be found in counties south and east of that area but usually only sporadically and in small groups. The name sweet birch comes from the sweet wintergreen flavor of its bark and twigs. The tree is also referred to as black birch because of its dark bark, which serves as a key identification tool in the winter. Many people may be familiar with this tree from experiences in scouting and 4-H programs.

The Big Tree Program originated in Maryland in 1925, went national in 1940, and is run by American Forests, www.americanforests.org. Each state has a State Coordinator who collects data, measures trees, and biannually submits certain trees to American Forests as potential National Champions. For more information, visit dnr.state.md.us/forests/trees/bigtree.asp.

The universal point system was developed by Marylandís first State Forester, Fred Besley. The formula is: circumference in inches + height in feet + one fourth of the average crown spread in feet. If you think you may have a State Big Tree or if you wish to have a copy of the State Big Tree List, contact John Bennett at mdbigtreeprogram@aol.com or 410-287-5980.


   February 16, 2012

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov