Champion Tree Program
Although Wyoming is considered a “prairie state”, trees have always played a prominent role in the quality of life in our state. From the native trees used to build and heat the first pioneer homes to the trees planted to beautify I-80 and I-25, natural forests and planted trees provide beauty, protection, products, wildlife habitat, and other benefits. The Wyoming Champion Trees program builds awareness of how trees contribute to “the good life” in Wyoming.
Eastern Cottonwood, Populus deltoides, Sheridan
The Wyoming Champion Trees program, administered by Wyoming State Forestry Division, is designed to identify and recognize the largest living specimen of all native and the most common introduced tree species in Wyoming.
The Wyoming Champion Trees program uses rules of the American Forests’ Big Tree Program. Trunk circumference, height and crown spread are combined using a point system as explained below.
A tree is defined as a woody plant having an erect, perennial stem or trunk. The trunk must measure at least 9½ inches in circumference (approximately 3 inches in diameter at breast height). The tree must have a definitely-formed crown of live foliage and a height of at least 13 feet.
Measure around the trunk at a point 4½ feet above the ground. If the tree is on a slope, measure the tree from the average ground level. If a swelling, branch, flare or other obstruction occurs at 4½ feet, measure the smallest circumference below the obstruction. If the tree forks at or below 4½ feet, record the smallest trunk circumference below the lowest fork. Record the height at which the measurement was taken. Trees should be considered separate if the circumference measurement below the lowest fork places the measurement on the ground.
Height can be measured by using a yardstick. First, pace off or measure 100 feet from the base of the tree, preferably on the level. Next, hold the yardstick vertically 25 inches from your eye (about an arm’s length). Site along the zero-inch mark to the base of the tree. Then, read the inch mark that aligns with the tree top. This reading in inches, multiplied by four, gives you the tree’s height in feet. A leaning tree’s height is measured vertically from the ground to the top of the tree, not along the leaning trunk.
Crown spread is the average width of the tree’s crown. This measurement should be taken from one edge of the crown, through the tree’s trunk to the opposite edge. Determine where the crown’s edge is by hanging a weight from a string and sighting up the resulting vertical line. Move back and forth until the string lines up with the crown’s edge. The tree’s widest and narrowest crown spread should be measured to the nearest foot. Add these measurements and divide by two to get the average crown spread.
Champions are determined by assigning points based on trunk circumference, height, and crown spread. One point is assigned for every inch of stem circumference, one point for each foot of height, and 1/4 point for each foot of average crown spread. The point total is the sum of the points from circumference, height, and crown spread measurements. The tree with the most total points is the "State Champion" for that species. If two or more trees are within 2 percent of each other, they will be declared Co-Champions.
For more information on how to properly measure a champion tree click here.
Anyone can nominate a tree for inclusion in the Wyoming Champion Tree Register. If you think you know of a possible Champion Tree, please complete and submit a nomination form. Record the tree’s measurements, fill in the name, address, and phone number of the owner(s) and nominator(s), the tree’s location, and its species. Give complete information, particularly tree location.
Send the completed nomination form to:
Champion Tree Program
Wyoming State Forestry Division
5500 Bishop Blvd.
Cheyenne WY 82002