Del. John Overington is working with the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District (EPCD) and the West Virginia Division of Forestry to find the biggest Tulip Poplar tree in the Eastern Panhandle. If the tree nominated is the largest in the Eastern Panhandle, Overington will donate $500 to the nominating individual or the charity of their choice. The deadline to enter is Aug. 1. The winner will be recognized at the EPCD Fall Banquet.
Trees will be measured using the criteria of the West Virginia Big Tree Program. Points will be determined based on the tree's circumference at 4.5 feet above ground, total height and crown spread, and the tree with the most points wins the contest. Trees will be verified by the Division of Forestry. In addition to the $500 prize, the winner will receive a copy of the poem 'Trees' by Joyce Kilmer.
Overington says that his lifetime interest in trees was due in large part to his grandfather, Fred W. Besley. His maternal grandfather was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to help determine whether forestland could be best managed through a state or federal system.His grandfather became Maryland's first state forester. He served 36 years in that capacity and became the nation's longest serving state forester.
Overington, who has served on the state legislature's Forest Management Review Commission, says that he and his wife JoAnn have planted thousands of trees on their farm in the Bedington area.
:Trees have a special meaning for me, and I am glad this contest is becoming an annual event," Overington says. He hopes to help increase the public's appreciation of the benefits of trees.
"As humans we use oxygen and give off carbon dioxide, trees and plants do the opposite," he said.
For more information about the contest, contact Heather Ishman at (304) 263-4376. When calling in an entry, please be prepared to give the diameter breast height measurement of the tree, which is the measurement of the tree trunk circumference at 4.5 feet up from the ground. If the tree entry is not on the nominating party's personal property, they must make clear their intentions with the property owner where the tree is located.
Previous winners of the contest are Mike Bochinski finding the largest pine tree last year, Diana Suttenfield in 2011 who found the largest maple tree in the area which also happened to be the largest Sugar Maple tree in the state. Other past winners include Kaitlyn Price who in 2010 found the area's largest oak tree, a Chinkapin oak tree that was 20 feet in circumference, and Dan DeSarno who found the largest tree in 2009, a sycamore tree near Ranson.