Three trees on Kenyon’s campus have caught the eye of the state of Ohio. In May, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) presented Kenyon with certificates acknowledging three trees deemed the largest within their species by the Champion Tree Program. The recognized trees include a white basswood near Bolton Theater, a grand fir north of Lewis Hall and a Norway maple on the west side of the Church of the Holy Spirit.
A tree is recognized through a nomination, and its champion status is verified through a score based on trunk circumference, crown spread and total height. Kenyon’s trees, which are among hundreds across the state tracked by the ODNR, were measured by Lisa Bowers, urban forester at ODNR, and Kenyon grounds manager Steven Vaden. “We used a tape measure for circumference, measuring wheel (for spread) and a clinometer for height,” Bowers said.
ODNR program coordinator Alistair Reynolds said Ohio’s champion tree program is the state version of the Big Tree Program run by AmericanForests.org. “The program was established in 1955 and is part of an effort to maintain a roster of the largest trees of each species in Ohio. It also serves as a reliable data source for scientific inquiry,” he said.
“Big trees are a testimony to people’s land stewardship values amid today’s changing landscape,” Reynolds said. “And they help improve air and water quality, reduce energy use in urban areas (from shade) and enhance aesthetics and recreational experiences.”
Reynolds said this recognition is an accomplishment for Kenyon’s community as well as the trees. “When a tree is given the status of champion it not only is a testament to the tree’s genetic potential, but also to people and communities for accommodating the tree through changing land uses and development.”
The College has made the care of all its trees a priority, Vaden said. “The trees as a whole throughout main campus have been fertilized and maintenance pruned,” he said, noting that Kenyon sets aside a portion of the budget exclusively for trees. “We’ve done a fair amount to try to preserve them as much as we can.”
By Rachel Downey