Qualifying begins on select Sebastian trees for ‘Champ’ status

SEBASTIAN – Two down – five to go. The Sebastian Natural Resources Board took a field trip into the city Thursday to measure two trees that might qualify as “Champion” specimens.

The first stop was Ken Lenoff’s home on Glencove Street, where a massive Live Oak shades nearly the entire backyard. As the board members arrived, they began walking to the Laurel Oak in the side yard, marveling at it’s size.

Lenoff redirected them to the Live Oak, telling them that the Laurel is the “small” tree.

“I can’t wait to see the big one,” Jane Schnee said.

Walking into the backyard, the members stopped in their tracks and craned their necks, trying to take in the height and girth of the tree.

“I’ve got to be honest Ken, this is going to be awful close to the one that’s already a champion,” Margie Reynolds said. Reynolds is the one responsible for taking down the measurements of the specimens and determining the points to be awarded.

“Champion” trees are the largest of their species, in height, canopy and trunk diameter. There is just one champion per tree specie.

The board members, whom Reynolds was teaching to measure the trees, were directed to walk 63 paces away from the tree and raise their hypsometer to determine the tree’s height and canopy length.

A hypsometer is a special measuring stick that is used to calculate height similar to that of a surveying tool.

While taking measurements, members couldn’t help but marvel at Lenoff’s yard, which is home to more trees than could be easily counted.

“A natural Florida yard – you got to love it,” Robin Graves said.

Watching the board traipse through his yard “oohing” and “aahing” over the flora, Lenoff didn’t seem to mind.

“Not many people come back here to see the yard,” he said.

If not for all the trees in the front yard, passersby would be better able to see and appreciate the Live Oak.

“It’s a great tree,” Schnee said.

Reynolds estimates that the oak is in the 80- to 90-year-old age range.

She told Lenoff that the oaks love to be trimmed and take well to it. She suggested that before the next hurricane season he consider having the dead limbs trimmed and the canopy thinned a bit to allow for better wind flow.

“Just be careful climbing trees,” Reynolds cautioned. “We’re not 12 anymore.”

The Natural Resources Board then traveled to Donna Nibb’s home off Schumann Drive to measure her Laurel Oak. Reynolds plans to report back to the board at its next meeting, Feb. 15, to discuss their findings and to schedule the measuring of the five new applicants.

Three of the applicants include a Pigeon-Plum on Balboa Street and two more Live Oaks, one on Indian River Drive and the other on Mulberry Street.

The Natural Resources Board hopes to name this year’s round of “Champion Trees” – if there are any – sometime this Spring. There is no guarantee that any of the applicants will reach Champ status.

They have to exceed the points awarded to the current Champion specimen in order to wrest the title away.

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