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West Bloomfield tree recognized in Big Tree Hunt contest

By: Mary Beth Almond | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published December 13, 2019

 Christina Angott, of West Bloomfield, submitted a 276-inch silver maple in front of her home for ReLeaf Michigan’s 2018-19 Big Tree Hunt.

Christina Angott, of West Bloomfield, submitted a 276-inch silver maple in front of her home for ReLeaf Michigan’s 2018-19 Big Tree Hunt.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 A 276-inch silver maple in West Bloomfield was named the largest tree in Oakland County in ReLeaf Michigan’s 2018-19 Big Tree Hunt.

A 276-inch silver maple in West Bloomfield was named the largest tree in Oakland County in ReLeaf Michigan’s 2018-19 Big Tree Hunt.

Photo by Donna Agusti

OAKLAND COUNTY — Christina Angott had to look no further than her front yard to find the biggest tree in Oakland County.

The massive silver maple has been on the family’s property for as long as anyone can remember.

“My husband’s grandparents bought this property in West Bloomfield Township in the ’20s and ’30s,” Angott said.

Throughout many generations, the tree has always been well loved.

“One of my grandkids’ favorite things to do is climb up in the tree and play games and fantasize,” Angott said. “It’s a great tree.”

Angott learned about the Big Tree Hunt via social media and decided to enter the multi-trunk tree, which measures 276 inches around the base of the trunk.

“The tree is actually directly in front of my house, so I didn’t have to search hard,” she said. “We’ve always talked about how big this tree was, so my granddaughter and I went outside and measured it and sent it in.”

Soon after, Angott was contacted by ReLeaf Michigan, letting her know the silver maple had been named the largest tree in Oakland County in the 14th annual Michigan Big Tree Hunt.

“I was shocked,” Angott said. “I mean, I knew it was big, but I figured there were lots of bigger trees … so I was surprised, but happy. I love the tree.”

Over 700 entries were sent in from people across the state, including from 80 of Michigan’s 83 counties. The winning entry for each county was verified on-site by professional arborists, foresters from tree services, consulting firms and government agencies throughout the state.

The Michigan Big Tree Hunt is sponsored by ReLeaf Michigan, a statewide volunteer nonprofit tree planting and education organization. According to its website, “ReLeaf Michigan has worked with over 400 communities across the state. Working with community volunteers, we have planted nearly 30,000 trees on public property in Michigan’s cities, townships and villages.”

Locally, the organization planted 75 trees in Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights Nov. 1 and 16 trees in Kennedy and Felker parks in Hazel Park Oct. 19.

Ted Reuschel is the state coordinator for the Michigan Big Tree Program, sponsored by the Michigan Botanical Club, which maintains the official register of the biggest trees of each species.

“It is independent of the ReLeaf Michigan program, but collaborates, and we do transfer some of their biggest trees to our state register after the contest,” Reuschel explained via email.

He said the contest is sponsored by ReLeaf Michigan to arouse people’s interest in trees and their role in the environment.

Each tree nominated for the Big Tree Hunt contest is entered into a database and given a score based on the girth of the tree 4 feet from the ground, the area of the crown spread, and its height.

ReLeaf Michigan held an awards ceremony Nov. 23 in recognition of the winning trees at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland.

The next Big Tree Hunt will begin in the spring of 2020. For more information, visit www.releafmichigan.org.

Staff Writer Terry Oparka contributed to this report.