Forest Service Investigates Monster Near Bayou
By Gary Endsley
JEFFERSON- At the request of the City of Jefferson, Jason Jones and Chad Wiley, Resource Specialists for the Texas Forest Service in Linden, investigated a behemoth Quercus phellos, the scientific name for willow oak, near the intersection of Camp and Marshall Streets inside the Port Jefferson Restoration Park. The purpose of the survey was to determine the giant specimen’s metrics for possible nomination as the largest willow oak on the Texas Big Tree Registry. Using big tree protocol, trees of the same species are compared by virtue of circumference, height, and crown spread.
The reigning champion resides in nearby Harrison County and was reported by David Simpson in 2008. “It measured larger in circumference than the Jefferson specimen, but was not as tall. Both are about equal in crown spread,” stated Jason Jones. “The Jefferson willow oak is a magnificent tree that has been somewhat restricted in growth by its thick surroundings and heavy competition for space and nutrients,” he added.
“This area of the future nature and heritage park is a perfect place for high school and college forestry studies and competitions. The West Section of the project area will provide a great demonstration area for habitat restoration and forestry management workshops,” said Jeff Campbell, the City’s Director of Tourism Development.
Big Tree champions are surveyed every 10 years to make sure they are still living and maintaining their big tree status. With improved land management brought about by the Port Jefferson Restoration Park, the Jefferson monster may be able to overtake its Harrison county relative. It is providing significant habitat for neo-tropical migrant birds such as vireos and warblers, squirrels, and bats. Right now, Jefferson’s tree monster is next in line to ascend to championship status.
The Texas Forest Service provides statewide leadership to assure the state’s trees, forests, and related natural resources are protected and sustained for the benefit of all. TFS will be working with the City of Jefferson and Collins Academy to establish and maintain a forest management plan for Port Jefferson Restoration Park. Construction of the park is scheduled to start around June 1, 2012.