700 Champion Trees and Counting
New Hampshire is the second most-forested state in the country, with 84 percent of its landscape covered with trees. With such a large forest cover and dedicated volunteers who search for the biggest tree species that grow in New Hampshire, it’s no wonder their big tree program has more than 760 champion trees.
Even though New Hampshire’s Big Tree Program is run entirely by volunteers and with no funds, through the hard work of county coordinators — who are outdoors in good weather and bad — the state has been able to double the number of trees on their list. State coordinator Carolyn Enz Page, with support from her crew, has done a great job of finding state champions to submit to the national program. New Hampshire boasts seven national champions: a black locust, American mountain-ash, pitch pine, eastern white pine, black spruce, staghorn sumac and one of Carolyn’s favorites, a gnarly sweet birch that grows on a stone wall and has been on the National Register since 1988.
“All of our coordinators are so great,” Carolyn says. Volunteers such as Paul Galloway in Cheshire County, Kamal Nath in Caroll County and Anne Krantz, the Hillsborough County coordinator who writes articles about the state’s champion trees to publicize the program, have made the program successful. Sam Stoddard, Coos County coordinator, help set up New Hampshire’s database using Google maps to pinpoint every tree in the state, and Kevin Martin, Rockingham County coordinator and boat builder, has written a book about big trees in the state that has interesting facts and a trail guide to help find them. And, let’s not forget about Mary Sheldon who keeps all of the data straight and “will go anywhere in the state to measure a tree.”
Since Carolyn took over the program in 2005, things have definitely ramped up for big trees. Going from snail-mail nominations to having a digital copy of all records and GPS coordinates for every tree is a big feat for any program; especially one that is approaching 800 champion trees. The next project for the state is gathering stories and articles about all of the trees.
When asked what the public can do to support the program, Carolyn says, “The only thing we ask of the public is to pay for the signs if they want one installed. Other than that, we just want the public to be on the lookout for big trees and to make sure that the trees in their locale are being treated well.”
To learn more about the New Hampshire Big Tree Program and its champion trees, visit www.nhbigtrees.org.
One-on-One With State Coordinator Carolyn Enz Page
Carolyn Enz Page has been with New Hampshire’s Big Tree Program since she took her first big tree measuring workshop in 2005. There must have been something exciting about measuring the state champion green ash at the time because Carolyn became a county coordinator soon after and eventually became the state coordinator. She even carries a tape measure whenever she’s out hiking, which is quite often since she leads a local hiking group on Wednesdays.
Carolyn may have retired from her career in the education field, but she is one active woman. She spends a lot of time in her vegetable and flower gardens, playing bridge, participating in a book and garden club, practicing yoga and volunteering for the local land trust, where she works on building trails. During the winter, she makes wreathes to sell at High Meadow Farms, her “cut-your-own” Christmas tree farm.
State coordinators have many administrative tasks running their programs and often send people into the field to verify trees, but Carolyn tries to get out as often as possible. One of her most memorable moments was a trip to find a large jack pine. While cruising the shoreline of Lake Umbagog with fellow big tree hunters, Carolyn says they witnessed an osprey screeching as a bald eagle flew over the osprey’s nest, encroaching on her territory. The end result was “talon-to-talon combat” in the air. A highlight for any nature lover.