Michiganders are being encouraged to get outside and celebrate the state’s natural beauty as part of a contest that looks to gather vital information about trees by challenging participants to find the biggest one in every county.

ReLeaf Michigan, a non-profit tree planting and education organization, has kicked off its 14th annual Michigan Big Tree Hunt. ReLeaf Michigan started the contest in 1993 to foster an enthusiasm and love of trees in the next generation, and to collect information about the state’s biggest trees. Contest entries provide potential state champion trees to Michigan’s Big Tree Registry, as well as the National Register of Big Trees. Big Tree Hunt Coordinator Lara Edwards says since Michigan champion trees die or may be removed, contest entries are a wonderful opportunity for all age groups to help track the vital and historical living landmarks. She says the contest also serves to remind how important trees are as they clean pollutants from air and water, absorb carbon dioxide and make the state more climate resilient.

Edwards tells WHMI helping to build a passion for Michigan’s trees is well worth the “labor of love” in tracking and verifying them adding, “It is truly a joy to see folks and their trees. A lot of the pictures people share include themselves and a lot of times it’s in people’s backyards and it’s really an honor to see all these little pieces of Michigan. I think trees they have such an important part in our lives and sort of in our nostalgia and sense of home…and for people to share that with us it’s just a joy.”

The contest is free and allows participants to submit as many entries as they’d like, with certificates and prizes for the winner in each category. Each entry must include a photograph of the tree and, if possible, a photo of a leaf or twig from the tree on the ground, identification of the tree, its location, and a circumference measurement of the tree from about four-and-a-half feet off the ground. The contest runs through September 3rd and is open to all ages. Those interested can find entry forms online, at conservation district offices, libraries and nature centers throughout state, or via email from info@releafmichigan.org. Additional information can be found at the link below. (DK)

Photo 1: a White Oak with a poison ivy vine from Fenton, submitted by Doug Vandenberg.
Photo 2: an Oak from Gogebic County, submitted by the Jeske Family.