Missouri’s Ozark Chinkapin Clinches Fan-Favorite Title Facebook Competition

The Ultimate Big Tree, Missouri's Ozark chinkapin Credit: American Forests

The Ultimate Big Tree, Missouri’s Ozark chinkapin Credit: American Forests

Washington, D.C.; April 22, 2013 — National conservation nonprofit American Forests has named the Ozark chinkapin tree of Barry County, Mo., the winner of its online Big Tree Madness competition. Inspired by the NCAA March Madness, the contest asked Facebook users to vote on their favorite national big tree champions from across the nation. After earning more votes than big trees from Michigan, Kentucky and Virginia, the “Prickly and Persistent” Ozark chinkapin beat out the “Mighty” Montezuma baldcypress tree from Texas in the final round to win the title of “Ultimate Big Tree.”

“We know that people love and respect big trees,” says Sheri Shannon, the American Forests National Big Tree Program coordinator. “The amount of interest and support that people showed for the Ozark chinkapin is a testament to the power of trees to bring communities together and how valued they are in our society.”

Since 1940, the National Big Tree Program has been a testament to American Forests’ legacy of leadership in recognizing the beauty and critical ecosystem services provided by our biggest and oldest trees. The program is active in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is used as a model for numerous Big Tree programs around the world. More than 750 champions are crowned each year and documented in a biannual publication, the National Register of Big Trees. The new spring 2013 register is scheduled to be released on April 26, with the reigning national champion Ozark chinkapin expected to keep its crown in addition to being the Big Tree Madness Ultimate Big Tree.

Missouri’s Ozark chinkapin is one of six national champions from the state of Missouri and is also one of more than 100 state champion big trees, as identified by the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Champion Tree Program. A member of the chestnut family, this species of tree is susceptible to chestnut blight and, consequently, is a species of conservation concern. However, this particular Ozark chinkapin has remained healthy and resilient, gathering a large fan base throughout the state and on social media.

For more information on American Forests National Big Tree Program or to nominate a big tree, visit www.americanforests.org/bigtrees. To find out more about Missouri’s Champion Tree Program, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/outdoor-recreation/missouri-state-champion-trees.

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American Forests restores and protects urban and rural forests. Founded in 1875, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country has served as a catalyst for many of the most important milestones in the conservation movement, including the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the national forest and national park systems and literally thousands of forest ecosystem restoration projects and public education efforts. Since 1990, American Forests has planted more than 43 million trees in forests throughout the U.S. and in 39 countries, resulting in cleaner air and drinking water, restored habitat for wildlife and fish, and the removal of millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Learn more at www.americanforests.org.

CONTACT: Tacy Lambiase, American Forests, 202-737-1944, communications@americanforests.org