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Search is on for area’s largest tree

By Staff | Jun 1, 2012

Del. John Overington is working with the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District (EPCD) and the West Virginia Division of Forestry to find the biggest pine/evergreen tree in the Eastern Panhandle, but he needs help. In exchange, if the tree nominated is the largest in the Eastern Panhandle, Overington will donate $500 to the charity of choice named by the nominee. The deadline to enter is July 31, 2012 and the winner will be recognized at the EPCD Fall Banquet in October.

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. 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, my maternal grandfather, was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to help determine whether forestland could be best managed through a state or federal system,” Overington said. “That appointment led to my grandfather becoming Maryland’s first state forester. He served 36 years in that capacity and became the nation’s longest serving state forester.”

Overington, who serves 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 special meaning for me, and I hope this contest can become an annual event.” Overington said 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.”

For more information about the contest, contact the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District at (304) 263-4376 or email epcd@wvca.us. 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 nominee’s personal property, he or she must make clear the intention with the property owner where the tree is located.