Perry County, and Buckhorn Lake in particular, is home to the biggest river birch tree in the nation, officials at the park announced this week.
Every fall, Buckhorn Lake park rangers team up with several local, state and federal agencies and host an environmental fair to educate local children on environmental issues and concerns in Eastern Kentucky. During the 2009 fair, an employee from the Kentucky Division of Forestry noticed a very large river birch in the campground. Having recently measured another local river birch, he felt this one could be the biggest in Perry County.
Upon official inspection, the tree measured a circumference of 205 inches at breast height (4.5 feet), an overall height of 117 feet and a spread of 85 feet. The tree was then scored and recorded, shattering the standing county record by more than 82 points.
These measurements and a photograph of the tree were submitted to Kentucky’s Champion Tree Program. Following verification, Buckhorn was awarded a certificate noting that Buckhorn Campground is now the location of the Champion River Birch in the state of Kentucky. But its reign didn’t end there. The state’s champion tree coordinator received permission to enter the tree into the national competition, and was recently recognized as the nation’s largest river birch.
On May 22, Buckhorn Lake Army Corps of Engineers was nationally recognized as the owner of the new National Champion River Birch (Betuda Nigra) by the American Forests National Register of Big Trees. More than 750 champions are recognized each year on this national register, and Perry County now has one represented in the Tailwater Campground between campsite 10 and 11.
An interpretive display case was constructed and placed on site to honor this giant. A search can be done by clicking http://www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/?search_val=river%20birch to view this tree and search others on the list.
The staff and faculty at Buckhorn Lake US Army Corps of Engineers are very proud to be able to preserve and promote this iconic monument and are always willing to inform guests about the key role that not only this remarkable tree, but every other tree within our boundaries, play in sustaining a healthy environment.
Visitors may visit the tree in person at 804 Buckhorn Dam Rd., Buckhorn, KY. Please contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers , Buckhorn Lake office at (606)398-7251 M-F 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. if you have any questions about the champion tree or any other issues that we may assist with.