Future Champion Trees
When gazing on immense, monolithic trees, often there is an inclination to view them as unchanging natural phenonmena, like a cliff face or lake. The life span of a large tree is so long compared to the human memory that we can be forgiven for being blind to the constant struggle for survival that unites trees with all other living things.
However, in the short time that Ascending the Giants has been working to document the remarkable trees of our region, we have time and again been reminded of the mortality of these seemingly timeless trees. In December of 2007, a windstorm blew through the Oregon coast that changed the landscape. The Klootchy Creek Spruce, the most famous tree in Oregon, was blown in half. Of the two next largest spruce in Oregon, one was also blown in half and the other had a three foot thick limb broken like a twig by the storm. Almost exactly a year prior a severe windstorm hit the Washington coast, blowing down thousands of trees and dramatically changing the landscape around many of the famous champion trees of the Olympic peninsula.
Photo: Will Koomjian - Seedling Douglas fir craddled near the top of the 243 foot tall Red Creek Fir on Vancouver Island,B.C.
Naturally, this gets us thinking about what trees will be the next generation of champions. In many cases, extremely large trees were spared from logging while the surrounding forests were cut. In many cases, successor trees are as rare as the champions themselves.
For this reason, we measure and note the location of what we consider future champion trees. These are not just the runner-up trees to the champions; they are younger trees with impressive dimensions and good health that we expect in time to attain similar size of current champion trees. Our goal is to encourage recognition and protection so that these trees can reach their potential to awe future generations.