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Carl Casey standing next to the Whelan sugar pine in Dorrington, Calif. - photo courtesy of Carl Casey

Audubon Society Meeting Features Local “Big Tree Hunter”

Written by Scarlett Bullock –

MARIPOSA – The Yosemite Area Audubon Society (YAAS) meeting on Thursday, Feb. 14, will feature a presentation by Carl Casey on “Big Tree Hunting,” an exciting and adventure-filled hobby.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Mariposa (see map below).

Casey is a local big tree hunting enthusiast who has discovered or co-discovered nine national champion trees. Many of these champion trees are in the Mariposa/ Yosemite area, some in remote wilderness areas and others on private lands.

Casey will present photographs of these and many other stunningly enormous, beautiful trees and share stories of his big tree hunting adventures.

Since 1940, the conservation organization American Forests has maintained the official National Register of Champion Trees, which showcases the single largest known specimens of native and naturalized trees across the United States.

To nominate a tree for consideration as champion, the nominator must include three measurements of the tree: circumference, height and crown spread (how far the branches extend out from the trunk). Points are granted for each of the three measurements.

Photographs and the location of the tree must also be submitted. If the point total for the tree is greater than any other trees of that species, the tree is officially crowned champion and a certificate is issued to the nominator.

Casey became interested in the unusual hobby of big tree hunting after reading the book Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast by Robert Van Pelt, published in 2001.

Van Pelt is a forest researcher based out of the University of Washington in Seattle, and has been a big tree hunter since the mid-1980s. He is an expert on big trees of the west coast, and his book featured not only champion trees but runners up as well.

Eventually Van Pelt visited Casey in Mariposa, and mentored Casey in big tree hunting as well as tree measurement.

Like all YAAS programs, Casey’s presentation on Feb. 14 is free and open to the public, although donations to defray program costs and to support the chapter’s local activities are welcome.

For more information about the program or about YAAS visit www.yosemiteaudubon.org.

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