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Ky.gov An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Energy and Environment Cabinet

Blanton Forest

Division of Forestry
How to Measure your Champion Tree

Do you have a Kentucky Champion Tree on your Property?

To nominate a tree, the species must first be identified and measured properly.  An electronic photograph of the tree and GPS coordinates are required and must be submitted with each nomination.  Click here for the nomination form. Foresters are available to assist with your champion tree identification and measuring. Contact the regional office that serves your county.

Circumference

The circumference of the tree is to be measured at 4.5 feet above the ground on the uphill side of the tree.  If the tree forks below 4.5 feet then measure the circumference of the largest fork at 4.5 feet.  If the tree forks at 4.5 feet, then measure the circumference at the smallest place below the fork.  The best tool to use to measure circumference is a flexible tape measure or one can use a non-stretch string and a ruler.  To ensure an accurate measurement make sure the tape or string is perpendicular to the axis of the trunk and is not twisted.  Remember that all circumference measurements need to be made in inches. 

Tree Height

An estimation of height can be made using a yardstick.  First, measure 100 feet from the tree.  Next, hold the yardstick vertically 25 inches from the eye.  Align the zero inch mark on the yardstick at the base of the tree and note the inch mark that aligns with the top of the tree.  Every 1 inch equals 4 feet.

Crown

To determine a tree's average crown spread, you must first find the points in the tree's crown that are widest and narrowest.  These points must then be marked on the ground.  Walk underneath the tree and visually assess where the tree's branches extend the farthest from the trunk.  Drive a stake into the ground directly beneath this point.  Following a line directly through the center of the tree's base, find the opposite side of the crown's widest point, stand directly beneath the outer edge of it and drive a second stake into the ground.  Next, you must determine the narrowest spread in the tree's crown.  Find where the outer edge of the crown's branches are closest to the bole, stand directly beneath this point and drive a stake into the ground.  Do the same as before and find the opposite side of the crown and drive a second stake to mark it.  Measure the number of feet between the stakes marking the crown's widest dimension and write it down.  Measure the number of feet between the stakes marking the crown's narrowest dimension.  Add the two numbers together, divide by two, and the result is the tree's average crown spread.

Total Your Points

Add together the points for the tree's circumference (inches) points, height (feet) points and one-quarter of the average crown spread.  The result is your tree's total points (circumference points + height points + one-quarter of the average crown spread points = total points).

     Circumference                                    Total Inches _______

     Height                                                           Feet _______

     Average crown spread (divide by four)               Feet _______

                                                     Total Index Points _______


Example: Sugar maple - 120 inches in circumference + 80 feet tall + average crown spread of 60 feet.

Circumference (in inches):  120
Height (in feet):  80
Average Crown Spread (in feet)/4: 60/4 = 15
Total Index Points: 215

After determining your final points, contact the regional office that serves your county and arrangements will be made for a forester to certify your results and submit your nomination.

If you have questions or need additional information, contact Jennifer Turner at 502-782-7177.