Macon County Conservation District Explore the Outdoors
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The Macon County Big Tree Search

With its broad crown, massive trunk and skyscraping height, a silver maple rising from the lawn of a Decatur home (pictured at right) holds the Champion title of the biggest tree in Macon County. But who knows. Maybe a bigger tree is right down the street from where you work, attend school, or even in your yard!

The Macon County Conservation District is celebrating the benefits of trees by encouraging you and your family to scout the county for unrecognized champions in the Macon County Big Tree Search. All you need is a measuring tape! The species you nominate may even have the potential to qualify as a state or national champion.

Download the Big Tree Nomination Form and Measurement Instructions!

The Benefits of Trees

Trees are an important part of our community and our environment. Whether in the middle of a forest or in your front yard, trees provide a multitude of benefits including habitat for animals, oxygen, shade, and beauty. The Macon County Conservation District is celebrating the positive effects of trees by encouraging you to go outdoors and find the biggest trees in your county!

Rich Crowe, the Natural Resources Specialist at the Macon County Conservation District believes that by getting people to explore their own backyards, neighborhoods and parks, the Big Tree program teaches people to look at even the most familiar parts of their world in new ways. “Nature is everywhere,” Crowe said. “Nature is in the trees and along the streets of Decatur; you can even find nature in the cracks of sidewalks.

Searching for the Biggest Trees

The Macon County Big Tree Search uses the same guidelines set by the American Forestry Association for the Illinois Big Tree Register and the National Register of Big Trees. That means that a tree in your yard, in front of your school, at your place of work, or on your favorite walk has the potential to qualify to be a county, state, or even national Big Tree champion! At present, three of the state champions in Illinois are also national champions. In Macon County, the champion Washington Hawthorn have been nominated for state or national champions and are awaiting verification.

The Big Tree Search is not only a fun way to experience nature but it is also a program that is easy to jump in and get involved. As you search for the “Big Tree” remember the best way to start is to measure the circumference, the distance around the trunk of the tree. The circumference of the trunk is a major factor in determining the tree’s final score, which also takes into account the tree’s height and the width of its crown.

Only the largest tree of each species nominated becomes a champion. Nominations are accepted through August 1st; with champions announced the following spring. Besides silver maples, some of the larger species growing in Macon County include eastern cottonwoods, black walnuts, and red, white, and bur oaks.

Download the Big Tree Nomination Form and Measurement Instructions!

Trees that may qualify to beat out the current big tree winner will receive a visit by District staff who will take official measurements. The nominator and/or owner of the biggest tree of a species will receive a certificate establishing their tree as a Macon County Big Tree.

You can view the Official Register of the biggest trees in Macon County here. These were selected from nominees submitted by interested residents like you. Each submission was verified by qualified staff members of the Conservation District.

The first search for the largest trees in Macon County was undertaken in 1976 as a Bicentennial project. Nominations are accepted until August 1st of each year and champions are announced the following April.

Keep in mind that only the largest tree of each species nominated becomes a champion. That tree retains its status until it falls or a larger tree of the same species is nominated. If you know of a tree that is larger than one on the list, or of a large tree whose species does not have a listed champion, complete this form.

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Macon County Conservation District
3939 Nearing Lane
Decatur, IL 62521
(217) 423-7708

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