Identifying the big chunk of wood is more than just a game. The area resident who submits evidence of the monster tree will receive a $500 prize, compliments of a partnership between the Cleveland Tree Board and Check Into Cash.
According to contest information helping to promote the hunt for tall timber, “Local residents were challenged to find Bradley County’s biggest tree in 1991. Now the search is on for the city of Cleveland’s biggest tree, and the person who finds it wins $500.”
That’s not chump change.
In order to qualify for consideration, the big stick must be located somewhere within the Cleveland city limits.
“We are giving $500 to the person who finds this particular tree, identifies it and measures it,” said Tree Board adviser John Thomason of ABC Tree Service. “For many years there has been speculation about where the biggest tree is located. Now, we will finally get an answer. This is as exciting as it gets, folks.”
Check Into Cash President Steve Scoggins said the $500 will be presented at the Cleveland Arbor Day recognition at the location of the winning “Big Old Tree” on April 26.
Since the contest was first announced earlier this month, it has generated strong community interest, Scoggins stressed.
“There are a lot of trees all over this great city of Cleveland that we do not know about,” he pointed out. “Once we locate these trees, Cleveland Urban Forester Dan Hartman will identify them on the city maps for our residents.”
This contest is a way to try to preserve the tree canopy in Cleveland, according to Check Into Cash founder and CEO Allan Jones who helped author the city tree ordinance.
“We have always believed that there are some things worth saving for our next generation,” Jones said. “We are united in our efforts to plant and preserve trees in Cleveland, especially those that shade the pavement on our streets and parks.”
“We already know we’ve lost beautiful trees,” Hartman noted. “Too many times I get a call from someone who is afraid a tree will hit the house. Too many times they want to do improper work or simply remove the tree from a lack of understanding. In most cases, it does not need to be removed.”
Jones suggests that those who participate in the contest ask property owners for permission to check trees and then follow the directions on how to measure the possible nominee.
“A 100-foot tape would be best to use, along with regular-size screwdrivers for markers,” Hartman explained. “The stick or part of a yardstick can be as short as 12 inches, but it might be better if it’s 18 inches or longer for height measurement. The circumference of a large tree will be measured in inches, such as 150 inches, which will be verified and translated into a diameter measurement by use of a special tree tape.”
Amy Banks, Jo Benjamin and Matt Coleman have volunteered to make the final selection. Hartman and Thomason will perform the inspections and take final measurements. Their recommendations will be forwarded to the committee.
Tips about potential mega-trees may be forwarded by email or conventional mail with the location and size of the “Big Old Tree” before Monday, April 1. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and forms are available at the Cleveland Municipal Building to be mailed to: Dan Hartman, Urban Forester, City of Cleveland, P.O. Box 1519, Cleveland TN 37364.
Area residents who would prefer requesting someone to measure their tree for them may call Jan Cheek at 423-458-8060.
How to measure
for a ‘Big Old Tree’
A long piece of string, a tape measure, a stick as long as your arm and four sticks for stakes are needed to do a preliminary check for a champion-quality tree.
Step 1: Measure the trunk 4½ feet above the ground.
Step 2: Measure the height by holding a stick at arm's length with the top of the stick at eye level. Walk backward from the tree. When the hand holding the stick lines up with the base of the tree and the top of the stick lines up with the top of the tree, mark the spot.
Step 3: Measure the crown by looking for the widest part of the crown, and mark the end of each pair of branches by placing a stake in the ground. Next, find the narrowest part of the crown and mark the ends of its branches. Measure the distance between the two pairs of stakes, then add the two distances and divide by two to get the average width of the crown.