Parkersburg readying next Big Tree Contest

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg Tree Commission is taking nominations in its annual Big Tree Contest.

The agency has recognized the biggest trees in Parkersburg since 2003, said Rickie Yeager, municipal planning administrator and the city’s liaison to the tree commission. The tree commission is a volunteer panel dedicated to the upkeep and improvement of the urban forest.

The city of Parkersburg is among 15 West Virginia cities recognizing April as Arbor Month, a program of the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Nominations will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. April 5. They can be mailed to the Parkersburg Tree Commission, One Government Square, Parkersburg, WV 26102, or emailed to

The contest is open to Parkersburg residents and land owners in the city.

The winner and the 10 largest trees will be recognized at the tree commission’s 15th annual Arbor Day Celebration at 10 a.m. April 19 at Bicentennial Park, Third and Market streets. The property owner with the largest tree will win a $50 gift certificate from Lowes Home Improvement in Parkersburg.

The complete rules and regulations are on the commission’s website, Nomination forms can be downloaded from the site.

Among rules, the tree must be located within the city limits of Parkersburg and any species may be nominated, either native to this area or introduced. The nomination must be at least 9.5 inches in circumference at a height of 4.5 feet above average ground level and 13 feet tall.

The website also recommends to help complete the form sources for identifying trees and their common and scientific names, such as “Trees of West Virginia” available from the West Virginia Division of Forestry. A more comprehensive listing may be found at Plants Database, an online website maintained by the National Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture found at

The circumference is measured 4.5 feet above average ground level. This is known as Circumference at Breast Height or CBH.

“CBH is a standard measurement technique,” said Turner Sharp, president of the Parkersburg Tree Commission. “It’s an easy way for people to document their own big trees.”

Considerations when determining CBH:

* On sloping ground measure the 4.5 feet at mid-slope. ‘where the acorn grew.’

* If a tree forks below 4.5 feet, measure only the largest fork.

* If a tree forks or a limb protrudes at 4.5 feet and there is a swell in the circumference, measure the smallest circumference below 4.5 feet. Record this distance above mid-slope.

* On leaning trees the 4.5 feet is measured along the axis of the trunk, while making sure the circumference is taken at a right angle perpendicular to the axis of the trunk.

Give the location of the tree as a street address and describe where on the lot it is located. On larger lots or woodland tracts, indicate where the tree is located from an easily recognized land mark. GPS coordinates can be used.

Include any item of interest concerning this tree, such as who planted it, who got married under it, was it a survey corner or witness tree.

Identify the owners by name, mailing address and phone numbers or email address.

Last year’s winner was the West Virginia Masonic Temple, a black oak (quercus velutina) with a CBH of 175 inches.

The two largest trees nominated in the city had a CBH of 195 inches, a cottonwood (populus deltoides) in 2009 on an unnamed alley off 26th Street between Riverview Drive and Linden Street and a silver maple (acer saccharinum) in 2007 at 1512 34th St.