By Leslie H. Dixon
SUMNER — The county’s newest Big Tree champion eastern white pine is hidden about half a mile off Fields Hill Road in Sumner, that is, until you are under it.
It towers 108 feet tall, is 21 feet, 4 inches in circumference and has a 1,512-foot crown.
Jeannie Federico, who coordinates the Big Tree Contest for the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District, has nominated it as a state champion.
“It may be possible it’s the new state champ,” she said. The district and landowners Tom and Mary Standard must wait to see if the existing state champion measurements hold up and whether any new eastern white pines in other counties challenge the champion.
State and national rankings score big trees on their circumference, their height and their limb spread.
The pine stands in the center of the Standards’ 100-acre backyard. It is accessed through a series of winding trails they cut over the years through untouched woodland and over old logging roads that lead down to the East Branch of the Nezinscot River.
The Standards, who came to Sumner from Tennessee 16 years ago, were aware several years ago they had a very large tree so they called district forester Merle Ring to measure it. He confirmed it, saying it was the second largest eastern white pine in the state that he was aware of.
When the Standards saw an article about the Big Tree Contest run by the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District, Tom said he called district officials about their pine.
It became an instant county champion.
The Standards’ tree joins the list of eight new Oxford County champion Big Trees identified this year.
The eastern white pine tree is one of two Big Trees in Sumner and 33 in Oxford County.
According to information from Federico, at the end of last year’s contest the county had found 26 of the 66 native tree species for Oxford County. There are three sets of co-champions: yellow birch, sugar maple and eastern white pine.
More were identified this year, she said.
This year’s Big Tree Contest began in May and once again Buckfield is leading the field with the most Big Trees in Oxford County. Buckfield has also identified the most county champions – five – followed by Waterford with four and Hebron, Paris, Lovell and Fryeburg with three each.
Oxford County has seven state champions: American basswood, American sycamore, black oak, eastern red cedar, striped maple, swamp white oak and white ash.
The Oxford County Big Tree Contest is sponsored by the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District. For more information, native tree lists, nomination forms or a copy of the 2015 Oxford County Register of Big Trees, call 207-743-5789, ext. 111, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the district office at 17 Olson Road in Paris.