The deadline to enter the annual Eastern Panhandle big tree contest is Aug. 1, the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District announced Wednesday.
The individual who submits the winning entry for the largest tulip poplar tree this year will receive $500 and a copy of the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer from Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley, who has sponsored the contest since 2009.
The winner, who also can designate their winnings to a charity of his or her choice, will be recognized at the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District’s fall banquet.
For entry, the tree’s circumference should be measured at a height of 4.5 feet above the ground, along with contact information and location of the tree. Herb Peddicord of the state Division of Forestry will measure the trees for the official circumference, height and crown spread.
The contest is an offshoot of Overington’s family ties to forestry — his maternal grandfather, Fred W. Besley, was Maryland’s first state forester.
Besley started a big tree contest in Maryland in 1924, the conservation district said Wednesday.
“The purpose of this contest is to call attention to trees, identifying species and recognizing their importance to the environment,” the conservation district said in the news release Wednesday.
Besley, who became Maryland’s first state forester in 1906, was honored as the father of forestry in the state last year when the Maryland Board of Public Works officially renamed 1,040 acres of forested land in Dorchester County the Fred W. Besley Demonstration Forest.
To enter the contest or for more information, contact Heather Ishman at the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District office in Martinsburg at 304-263-4376, ext. 4.