August 4, 2023
ReLeaf Michigan, the only statewide tree-planting and education nonprofit organization in Michigan, is seeking entries for the 16th biennial Michigan Big Tree Hunt contest. The 2023-24 contest, which offers prizes for identifying the biggest trees in Michigan, is open to participants of all ages.
ReLeaf Michigan started the Michigan Big Tree Hunt in 1993 to celebrate Michigan’s beauty and create a fun way to gather information about Michigan’s biggest trees. The contest, ReLeaf says, is an opportunity for all age groups to help track these historical living landmarks, and it is a great way to bring people, nature and trees together in an engaging activity.
The largest trees in the state can be found anywhere: a backyard, a local park or a hiking trail. The last contest received more than 650 entries from 79 of Michigan’s 83 counties, with more than 100 certificates and prizes awarded.
Winners are recognized for the largest tree submitted from each county, the overall largest tree in different age groups, and the largest white pine (Michigan’s state tree). The contest also awards trees that may be the biggest of their type (for example, sugar maple).
These are known as champion trees and are tracked at the state and federal levels. The state database is managed by the Michigan Botanical Society, while the national database is maintained by the American Forest organization.
As recently as 2012, Michigan had 23 registered champion trees, but today there are only five registered, with at least one pending registration. Since hundreds of tree species don’t yet have registered champions, the Big Tree Hunt is a great opportunity to add to this list and get Michigan trees noticed nationwide.
Even if a tree is not as large as the currently listed state champion of that species, ReLeaf encourages entries because the current champion may have died or have been removed.
More contest details and the entry form are available online at bigtreehunt.com. The contest will accept submissions until Aug. 25, 2024. For information, email [email protected] or call 800-642-7353.
Follow ReLeaf Michigan’s Facebook page for updates and to see the “Big Tree of the Week,” an entry from the contest posted every Monday. Paper entry forms will soon be available at more than 200 libraries and natural areas across the state.
ReLeaf Michigan’s Big Tree Hunt contest is only possible with the support of sponsors, and this year’s premier sponsor is still available. Call Kevin Singer at 248-408-8266 to learn about the statewide exposure and engagement that a premier sponsor will receive in association with the contest.
Other sponsors include Consumers Energy Foundation and the Michigan Botanical Club. The contest also receives in-kind support from the Michigan Department of National Resources — Urban and Community Forestry Program and Michigan State University.
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