Now on the Oxford County Register of Big Trees, this tree is the first bur oak found in Oxford County, and can be seen in the park on the right as you drive up Route 26 into Bethel. (Submitted image)

AREA — The 2019 Oxford County Register of Big Trees, sponsored by the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District, opened May 15 and will run until Sept. 15. The public is invited to help find all 66 of the native Maine trees on the list.

Follow the example of MacKenzie Federico, 9, and Makayla Federico, 7, who have been learning to identify trees for a few years and are excited when they find a new one to add to the contest. Last year, they entered the first bur oak found in Oxford County. It’s still small, but kudos to Bethel for planting native species. The tree is in the park/playground on the right, as you drive up Route 26 into Bethel.

This year, MacKenzie and Makayla are determined to find the biggest gray birch.

There are still 24 species to find, but some, like the Atlantic white cedar, bitternut hickory and Florida dogwood, are rare or can only be found in specific areas of the state.

Several are small trees that might be consider more shrub-like, such as the pin cherry, alternate-leaf dogwood, mountain maple, nannyberry, Canada plum, black willow, downy and Allegheny serviceberry.

Some great ones to look for this year are American hornbeam, black ash, jack pine, gray birch, and balsam poplar (sometimes called Balm of Gilead and made famous in the Norway area by the writings of C.A. Stephens).

There are great photos of all of these trees online to help with identification. This can become a great, fun summer project to do as a family or start a little competition among friends.

Owners of champion trees receive a certificate, and nominators of winning trees receive T-shirts and copies of “Forest Trees of Maine, Centennial Edition 1908-2008.” The Oxford County Register of Big Trees is sponsored by Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District.

For information, native tree lists, nomination forms or a copy of the 2018 Oxford County Register of Big Trees, call 744-3119, email Jean at [email protected], or stop in at the Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District office at 17 Olson Rd. in South Paris.

Here is where Oxford County stands at the start of the 2019 season:

• Forty-three of the 67 native tree species (Eastern cottonwood has been added) for Oxford County have been found. The total points are determined by a licensed forester who measures circumference (in inches) plus height (in feet) plus a quarter of crown spread.

• The town of Waterford leads the county with eight champion trees.

• The County Champion with the most points overall is still an enormous silver maple located in Fryeburg, with a total of 405.13 points.

• The County Champ with the least number of points is a common juniper with a total of 12 points. Maine has a common juniper in the National Register of Big Trees with a total of 38 points.

• There are five sets of co-champions: bigtooth aspen, black cherry, red maple, yellow birch and American chestnut. There are three American chestnuts within 10 points of each other in Oxford County.

• Oxford County has seven State Champions: American basswood in South Waterford, American sycamore in Waterford, black oak in Sumner, Eastern red cedar in Hebron, Silver maple in Fryeburg, swamp white oak in Paris, and white ash in Waterford; and one State Co-Champion: northern red oak in Lovell.

• Presently, there are 12 nominees for State Champion: trembling aspen, American beech, mountain paper birch, Northern white cedar, hawthorn, Eastern hemlock, Eastern hophornbeam, scarlet oak, Eastern white pine, pitch pine, white spruce, and staghorn sumac.