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Anneslie resident shows, that tree in your front yard may just be a champion

I like big trees and I cannot lie. You know who else likes big trees? The state Department of Natural Resources. So does Anneslie resident Nicholas Monaco.

Living in a neighborhood rich with mature trees, Monaco was inspired to see how the ones on his property match up against DNR registry standards. DNR’s Maryland Big Tree Program is part of a national endeavor to track big trees. The largest trees in an area (national, state, county) are designated as champions, but any trees within a certain threshold will still be tracked.

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Monaco first sought to register a white oak in his backyard. Based on an internet tree age calculator, Monaco estimates that his white oak is about 229 years old and 85 feet tall. Seems pretty huge, right? Well, it didn’t make the cut. “I did not have any illusions that it was a champion, but I figured it would qualify as a big tree. Despite its size, I was informed my white oak would not qualify for another 20-30 years,” he says.

Undeterred, Monaco sorted through the registered list of big trees in Maryland and realized that no red maple had yet been registered in Baltimore County. The red maple in his front yard is about 186 years old and 76 feet tall. “Under normal circumstances, my red maple would not even be large enough to qualify for registration; however, with no red maples in Baltimore County registered, mine was large enough to qualify and by default became the county champion.”

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The process of nominating the trees and getting the certification took Monaco about a month. Two people from the committee came out to measure and examine the nominated trees, write up a description, and take photos. After the registry designation was made, Monaco says he received a certificate for his tree, a listing on the https://www.mdbigtrees.info/ website, “and a rad bumper sticker that says, ‘Proud Owner of a Maryland Big Tree.’ ”

Why would someone go through the trouble to register a big tree? “Because if I have to spend up to five weekends every autumn raking leaves, I want some sort of recognition for one of my trees. There are probably dozens if not a hundred-plus red maples larger than mine in Baltimore County. Unfortunately for those red maples, they do not have owners desperate enough to register them,” says Monaco.

Monaco says his “unspectacular” tree may not be especially impressive to some folks, but sorting through the listings in the Maryland Big Tree website yields some interesting finds for those who appreciate nature. It also shows that the National Champion Southern Catalpa is located here in Towson. Might it be yours? Your neighbor’s? Maybe we should pay a little more attention to the big trees around our community. All are beautiful. And some are even a little bit famous.

Will this newly minted certification make all that raking a little more exciting this year for Monaco? “Abso-freakin-lutely,” he says.

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