Forestry

Protecting Arkansas’s forests, and those who enjoy them, from wildland fire and natural hazards while promoting rural and urban forest health, stewardship, development, and conservation for all generations of Arkansans

Champion Trees

The Arkansas Champion Tree Program is a recognition program for the largest trees of each tree species in Arkansas. 

Arkansas is a state renowned for its scenic, natural beauty and abundant forested areas. The trees of this great state are pieced together across a varied landscape and offer huge diversity. Champions are unique from one another in size, width, and even color, as they represent entirely different species from one tree to the next. It’s important to remember that not all Arkansas Champions are necessarily tree giants; rather, they are the largest for that tree species. For example, the Champion Ginkgo Tree is much smaller than the Champion Bald Cypress Tree. They are equally magnificent, however, in their own unique ways.

If you have a tree you believe is the largest of its species, contact the Forestry Division using the contact form, or call your local Forestry Division office. You may also send a nomination form directly to Harold Fisher at PO Box 10, Greenbrier, AR 72058. Send questions to harold.fisher@agriculture.arkansas.gov. 

Champions of the Arkansas Champion Tree Program Arkansas's Champion Tree Program has grown in popularity and recognition thanks to the shared interest of Arkansas landowners, the work of Forestry Division personnel across the state, and the work of two special "champion" visionaries: Linda Williams Palmer and Peggy Clark.

Linda Williams Palmer, Hot Springs artist and long-time Arkansan, was so inspired by Arkansas Champion Trees that she created an entire collection of artwork, featuring large, detailed, colored pencil-drawn images to document and artistically interpret selected Arkansas Champions. Palmer’s exhibit, "Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey," has been selected for numerous juried exhibitions and collections across the state. Palmer’s work has captured in time the intricate detail and splendor of each Champion Tree featured, so that even as they age, their memory does not. An Arkansas Arts Council grant, along with donations from Plum Creek and Domtar, enabled the Arkansas Committee of the National Women in the Arts to make Palmer’s series available to 16 venues across the state from 2012 to 2014. View the drawings on Linda's website.

Peggy Clark, Arkansas Forestry Association (AFA) Board Member, Ross Foundation Trustee, and former Commissioner with the Arkansas Forestry Commission, saw Linda’s exhibit and was inspired — how could Champion Trees be better identified as Champions of their species by the public? Peggy forged a cooperative effort between the Ross Foundation, AFA, Arkansas's Forestry Division, and the U.S. Forest Service to create hand-crafted, native stone monuments to commemorate and identify Champion Trees. Stonemason Jack Culpepper of Garvan Woodland Gardens worked with partners to mount Champion Tree plaques on stones identifying the tree species and its status as a Champion Tree. Thanks to Ms. Clark’s ingenuity and the wonderful partnerships begun by participation and support from the Ross Foundation, many Champion Trees are now easily visible and handsomely marked.

In 2014, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) created a documentary film, “Arkansas Champion Trees,” about Palmer’s work and exhibitions. The film includes historical background from the landowner of each featured tree, a forester’s perspective on measuring and documenting trees (told by Forestry Division Forester Matthew Voskamp), and information on the stone monuments. This film has gained national attention and has won several awards. AETN produced an excellent guide for educators, the Champion Trees Educator's Guide, to go along with the documentary.

The Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, with support of Entergy Arkansas grants and a grant from the School of Forest Resources at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, also produced classroom materials to bring Palmer’s collection to Arkansas students. Materials include complete lesson plans and posters to accompany each work of art. The materials are free and can be found online at the Arkansas Forestry Association website via this link.

Measuring Champion Trees

Trees are measured in three dimensions: trunk circumference, tree height, and average crown spread. Circumference is measured at 4½ feet from ground level. (Alternatively, sometimes diameter is measured and then converted back to circumference.) The formula below, provided by American Forests, is used as the official calculation of a Champion Tree:

   circumference in inches (Cii)

+ height in feet (Hif)

+ one-fourth of the average crown spread in feet (1/4aSif)

Bigness Index (B.I.) 

American Forest also maintains the national listing of Tree Champions, identifying the Champion Tree for each species from across the entire United States. You can view and search for current national Tree Champions on their website.

How to Nominate a Champion Tree

Arkansans from anywhere in the state may nominate a tree for measurement as a possible new Champion (nomination form). For a tree to be eligible for nomination it must be a native tree to Arkansas or non-native and naturalized. In addition, hybrids, cultivars, ornamentals, and unclassified varieties are excluded. Local forestry officials use the Bigness Index discussed above to evaluate tree measurements. If the Bigness Index of a nominated tree is larger than that of the current state Champion, the nominated tree then becomes the new Champion for its species.

Arkansas Champion Trees

Champion Trees Vacancies