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Georgia Arbor Day celebration includes latest Champion Trees
One of the three new Champion Trees named today includes this weeping cherry. Planted in 1970, it is 45 feet tall and has a crown spread of 59 feet. - photo by Georgia Forestry Commission

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Georgia Champion Tree List

Arbor Day celebration
When: 10 a.m. today
Where: Northeast Georgia History Center, 322 Academy St., Gainesville
More info: 770-297-5900

The Hall County Champion Tree program took a hiatus due to budget cuts last year, but it’s back this year with awards for three more Champion Trees named for Hall County.

In honor of Georgia’s Arbor Day, the trees will be revealed today at a celebration at the Northeast Georgia History Center.

"There were seven nominations and we have three new champions," said Phillip Anderson of the Georgia Forestry Commission. "They will be announced at the ceremony, which brings our total registry in the registry of trees in Hall County to 101, and we have 15 state or co-champion trees."

This is the 15th year Champion Trees will be named.

"We hated that we couldn’t have it last year, and we’ve had some actual help this year to make it possible for the tree contest and we are very glad to get it back going," he said. "Hopefully we’ll be able to continue it this year."

A new Champion Tree for Hall County this year is the weeping (Higan) cherry that was submitted by David Reed of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Reed’s parents, Larry and Sarah Reed, planted the weeping cherry tree in 1970. It is 45 feet tall with a crown spread of 59 feet.

"They moved there in 1969 and planted it in 1970 and planted the tree beside it, which is a co-champion (Japanese magnolia). It’s an ornamental tree; a lot of people do plant it because they are very pretty," said Reed. "Every time I see it — I drive by there from time to time going to Gainesville — (I remember) when I was a kid we would climb it. But when I was real little I got a whippin’ for climbing the tree because my dad thought it would bend it over."

Even so, Reed said the tree holds a special place in his heart.

"It was the best climbing tree."

To become a Champion Tree, the specimen must be a nominated by the public and a ranger is sent out to measure the crown spread, trunk diameter and height.

Along with presenting the Champion Trees, the city of Gainesville also will be presented with the Tree City award for the 23rd year. The city of Gainesville and Hall County will present Arbor Day proclamations, Keep Hall Beautiful will be presenting its tree replacement grants and seedlings will be available to those who attend.

"We’re also doing a local heros recognition," said Billy Skaggs, Hall County extension agent. "We’re going to be recognizing some local folks who have done good things as far as tree preservation and planting around the city and county."

Keeping the Champion Tree program going and observing Arbor Day is a worthwhile cause, Skaggs said.

"The more trees that we can plant to replace those that have been lost to construction and development, that’s going to have a positive environmental impact," he said. "Certainly when you think about the education component of Arbor Day and trying to educate young people and the importance of trees, what they do for our communities in terms of filtering the air, preventing erosion, providing shade, all those environmental benefits, I think it is important to relay that to the public and particularly the youth."

Anderson added that a good way to celebrate Arbor Day at home with children is to plant a tree with your child.

"One thing I think that would be an interesting thing to do is to take a child out and plant a tree," he said. "As they grow up and become an adult, they’ve got something to watch grow from the time they planted it up till their later years."