Looking for that amazing tree

In these first days and weeks of summer here in the Red River corridor, our basin’s trees are fully decked out in their leafy finery. Not only do they protect living areas, fragile lands and riverbanks, but they provide glorious scenes for our winter-weary eyes.

But how often do we take these grand living structures for granted? Rather than just walking, biking or driving by and not noticing, what if we sought out the grand trees of our basin? Wouldn’t discovering an incredible tree be considered a “find?” How do we share this knowledge, so others can marvel at their glory as well?

Both Minnesota and North Dakota have compiled lists of the largest trees in their respective state and have websites devoted to their programs. The North Dakota Forest Service maintains the records for the Champion Tree Program. The link to their web page is http://www.ndsu.edu/ndfs/champion_trees_of_nd/. Minnesota’s native big tree registry is found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/trees_shrubs/bigtree/index.html. Several of these amazing trees are located in the Red River basin.

A Manitoba non-profit, Rivers West Red River Corridor, is currently sponsoring its Second Annual Amazing Tree Quest, with the help of the Manitoba Forestry Association. Entrants are invited to nominate the tree they find most amazing. This might mean the biggest tree, the oldest tree, the most striking tree — perhaps a community favourite. Winning trees will be announced during Canada’s National Forest Week, September 22-29, 2012. Details about the contest can be found at http://www.riverswest.ca/.

Whatever state or province we live in, any of us can add such a quest to our summer plans for enjoying the outdoors. What better way to explore the basin than to visit these champion trees or to search out a grand tree that has been overlooked, perhaps for a century or more, to be discovered?

However we carry it out, an amazing tree quest will further several important goals. It will increase awareness of the role of trees in our basin’s history. And it will promote stewardship of the basin’s trees, which, withstanding extremes of weather, continue to protect our land and water resources and amaze us with their splendour.

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