NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - East Texans could easily take trees for granted. After all, they're abundant and we see them every day.
Fortunately, in Nacogdoches there is one accomplishment and one opportunity to help us understand the importance of a healthy urban forest.
Nacogdoches has the trees and the partners to promote them. Nacogdoches is now officially recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA community.
"Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful, as well as the Garden Capitol Committee, as well as the City of Nacogdoches has taken great lengths to apply for this designation," said Amy Mehaffey, the City of Nacogdoches' communications director.
On Friday, Stephen F. Austin State University forestry students were measuring the lengths of towering trees in Nacogdoches. They, along with their professor, were promoting a unique competition.
"This is called NacogdoTrees and we're looking for big trees and also the best stories about trees," said Dr. Shelby Gull Laird, an SFA forestry professor.
Contestants will search the University's tree-lined campus and several wooded city parks to compete in four categories. Circumference.
"And just wrap it all the way around," said Sean Hoes, an SFA forestry. "And I get this one, right here. It's 11 feet."
"Reaching the yard stick from my eye, the zero end, to as far as I can reach it here, which in my case is 26 inches," said Ellart Vreugdenhil, another SFA forestry student.
The rest of the instructions for that, plus how to measure a tree's crown, can be found on the NacogdoTrees website.
"We have a series of videos that we have up on the website for the program," Laird said.
The remaining two categories of best shade tree and best overall tree just require good storytelling or visuals.
"You want to give us the best story you can about the tree - why it's special to you and why you think it deserves the award," Laird said.
The root of all this and the USA Tree City recognition go hand and hand.
"It gives others the motivation to insure we are taking care of our trees and continuing to plant trees, Mehaffey said.
"And understanding that trees are really vital in an urban environment," Laird said.
The City of Nacogdoches has to meet specific standards to keep the Tree City USA designation; among them is having a "community tree ordinance."
The contest is going on now until November 1.