Sizing up big city trees
Mar 28, 2013 | 651 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland’s “Big Old Tree” contest is raising the bar — and maybe a few limbs — on the green movement in our blossoming hometown.

To borrow a mindset from Cleveland State Community College, finding the city’s biggest tree is all about the green.

But unlike the annual CSCC tribute to our environment, the Big Old Tree push is also all about the bark, the circumference, the height, the crown diameter, the limbs, the trunk, the roots and just about anything else that makes a big tree ... well ... big.

For any who are lost in the shade, we refer to “Big Old Tree” contest launched earlier this month in which a partnership between the Cleveland Tree Board and Check Into Cash are attempting to find the city’s biggest tree.

As an added incentive for the community’s participation, $500 in prize money is being offered to the winning entry.

The big-wood contest — which comes 22 years after a similar hunt in 1991 which canvassed all of Bradley County — is intended to befriend the environment while protecting Cleveland’s natural canopy. This is especially true of trees that shade the city’s streets and parks.

Cleveland Urban Forester Dan Hartman spoke of the initiative’s importance. It is designed to promote awareness of the beauty that vibrant trees — big and small — bring to our city.

Hartman’s explanation is spot on as he cites, “We already know we’ve lost beautiful trees. Too many times I get a call from someone who is afraid a tree will hit the house. Too many times they want to do improper work or simply remove the tree from a lack of understanding. In most cases, it does not need to be removed.”

Obviously, powerful tornadoes like those on April 27, 2011, and March 2, 2012, that swept through sections of our community have instilled natural fear in the hearts and minds of homeowners and renters who live in the shadows of giant timber. And frankly, their concerns are understandable.

But professionals like Hartman and Tree Board adviser John Thomason of ABC Tree Service urge residents to consider all options before making removal decisions. They believe the preservation of the city’s tree canopy is a high priority due to aesthetic and environmental reasons.

And that’s one of the purposes of the “Big Old Tree” contest.

For those planning to nominate a whopper of a tree, we suggest this: Hurry!

Deadline for entry forms is April 1. That’s Monday and it’s not an April’s Fool joke. Those wishing to nominate a tree may do so by sending an email to, or mailing a completed form to Dan Hartman, Urban Forester, City of Cleveland, P.O. Box 1519, Cleveland TN 37364.

Also, area residents who prefer having someone else measure their tree for them may call Jan Cheek at 423-458-8060.

“Big Old Tree” contest forms are available at the Cleveland Municipal Building. The form was published in Wednesday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner. It also gives detailed instructions on how to measure a tree.

Once Monday’s deadline has come and gone, a committee comprised of Amy Banks, Jo Benjamin and Matt Coleman will make the final selection. Entries will be verified for size and location.

The $500 prize will be presented at the Cleveland Arbor Day observation at the location of the winning “Big Old Tree” on April 26, according to Steve Scoggins, Check Into Cash president, and Allan Jones, CIC founder and CEO.

Folks had fun with the countywide contest back in ’91. They are again more than two decades later with this municipal competition.

If it were humanly possible, right about now we would urge all big city trees to step up on their own and be counted. But this is not “The Wizard of Oz” and our local trees aren’t talking or slinging apples.

Instead, entries will require a human touch and a heart for the environment.

But by all means, don’t fear barking up the wrong tree. All entries will be considered, and in this case size truly matters.

Also, no need to hug your entry, but we do recommend a tape measure.