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Olympic-sized Trees

August 8, 2012

Every time the Olympics return, I'm glued to my TV, unable to miss a moment of the games.

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It's amazing to witness the best of the best in sports soar to new heights and gleam with pride - years of sweat and tears paying off with the ultimate rewards: gold, silver and bronze medals.

Swimming, for instance, has been extremely competitive. From the second they dive into the pool the competitors move like underwater torpedoes. As each body glides through the water, their heads bob in and out almost in sync. If you aren't watching closely, you might miss that moment when one or two swimmers start to pull ahead. Just a second or two - or a mere fingertip length advantage - are enough to determine a victory or defeat.

And what the gymnasts can do with dexterity and agility is unbelievable. I sit on the edge of my seat at home, knowing I have no control as I watch them compete, yet feeling antsy with the anticipation that historic moments are about to be made. I get goosebumps up and down my arms. A gymnast flawlessly performs her toughest moves, securing another gold for the U.S. As she accepts her medal, I feel like a supportive family member, tears glistening in my eyes - so proud of her achievement, so proud of my country.

These are just two examples from the Summer Games - all of the competitions are riveting to watch. No matter the sport or skill, when someone can excel at such a high level in their craft, it is always amazing and worthy of recognition.

The world of trees has its own Olympics known as the National Register of Big Trees.

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California state coordinator, Mike Taylor, standing beside Melkor. Photo: Mike Taylor/American Forests

The most recent edition of the National Register of Big Trees recognizes approximately 760 of the biggest trees in the country. But in the world of big trees, some trees are bigger than big: They're mega. These are trees that garner the most points on the register - more than 650. There are 15 of these beasts on the 2012 list. The shortest of them, the co-champion common bald cypress in Mississippi, is only 82 feet tall, but what it lacks in height it makes up in girth with a 55-foot trunk circumference. The tallest of the mega-trees is the 349-foot tall co-champion coast redwood named Melkor. And California's bluegum eucalyptus holds the biggest crown, spreading 126 feet. Then there's the 931-point Western red cedar, the Quinalt Lake Cedar, in Washington's Olympic National Park, which is thought to be the largest tree in the world outside of California and New Zealand.

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The Lost Monarch is located in the Grove of Titans at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Northern California. It ranks as the second biggest tree on the National Register. Photo: American Forests

No tree gains mega status overnight - like Olympians who hone their skills, it takes time. If you're looking for mega-trees, the West Coast is the place to be. Only two mega-trees are found outside of California, Oregon and Washington.

For a complete list of mega-trees and all the other biggest trees in the country, visit the American Forests web page dedicated to big trees. Davey is proud to have been the premier sponsor of the National Register of Big Trees since 1989. The program has been around since 1940 and is active in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

As my time glued to the television celebrating Olympic champions comes to an end as the Summer Games conclude, these trees remind me I'm surrounded by champions in all aspects of my life every day. As American Forests' Big Tree program touts: "Regardless of size, all trees are champions of the environment."

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