Champion & Heritage Tree Programs

Nebraska Champion Tree Program


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About the Champion Tree Program

The Nebraska Champion Tree Program is administered by the Nebraska Forest Service. The purpose of the program is to promote public awareness of Nebraska's forest and tree resources by searching for the state’s largest trees.

National Champions

With Nebraska’s harsh weather, trees may not grow as large here as in other parts of the country. But Nebraska still has some large specimens, including two National Champions.

In October 2013 a cottonwood tree 10 miles northeast of Beatrice was named the National Champion, the largest known species of its kind in the country. It measures 88 feet high with a 108-foot canopy spread and a trunk circumference of 36 feet and nine inches. It joins Nebraska’s other national co-champions, a pair of dwarf chinkapin oaks in Salem, Neb.

Nominations
To nominate a champion tree in Nebraska, first view the nomination guidelines including directions on how to measure the tree. You may submit nominations online or mail a completed form and a photo of the tree. The form can be printed directly from your computer.

The Nebraska Champion Tree Register

The Nebraska Champion Tree Register lists the most common native and introduced tree species in Nebraska. Most of the listed species are described in Trees of Nebraska (Nebraska Cooperative Extension EC 92-1774-X). The register annotates Native Nebraska trees, State Co-Champions and Nebraska trees that are National Champions.

Visit the National Register of Big Trees on the American Forests website.

New Champion Ponderosa Pine!

In January 2013, Eastern Nebraska Community Forester Graham Herbst confirmed that Nebraska has a new state champion Pinus ponderosa! See the video below for more details.

Nebraska Heritage Tree Program

Pictured above is Lone Tree near Central City. It was a visual marker for pioneers as they crossed the plains of Nebraska.

About the Heritage Tree Program

The Nebraska Heritage Tree Program is a cooperative effort between the Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Community Forestry Council.

Most Nebraska communities have extraordinary trees under which town founders met to draw up community plans, trees that grow at historic places, birthplaces of Nebraska’s historic figures or places where legendary events occurred. Nominating a distinctive tree for the register gives every community across the state an excellent opportunity to celebrate our Nebraska heritage.

Trees continue to fulfill our necessities, supplying food, shelter, aesthetics and fuel. Some trees have stood watch over lives and events that represent the fabric of our state. Nebraskans are fortunate to have a rich and colorful historic heritage. By viewing the past through the unique perspective of trees, we hope this heritage will endure for future generations. Each community has a landmark tree, a living witness. Our goal is to identify and recognize these trees and present their legacy in the Nebraska Register of Heritage Trees.

The Nebraska Register of Heritage Trees is unique because it is a collection of trees that have served as living witnesses in the state of Nebraska. The register includes includes tales, photographs and a journey into Nebraska’s past through the special accounts of these famous storytellers. All of Nebraska’s Heritage Trees will be listed on this website.

Guidelines for Nomination
  • The tree is figurative in legend, lore or common perception.
  • The tree stands at the home of a person who played a role in Nebraska history as a leader, writer or other significant contribution.
  • The tree stands at or near where an event occurred that affected Nebraska’s development and citizens.
  • The tree was planted by an individual or group whose experience is of significance.
  • The tree is illustrated in sketches, journals, photographs or writings related to a historical event.
Anyone can nominate a tree for inclusion in Nebraska’s Heritage Tree Program. If you would like to nominate a tree for consideration, download the nomination form and send the completed nomination and photograph to:

Eric Berg
Nebraska Forest Service
Community Forestry & Sustainable Landscapes Program Leader
102K Keim Hall
Lincoln, NE 68583-0715

For more information call (402) 472-6511 or email: eberg2@unl.edu
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