Nomination Instructions

The following instructions provide guidance on how to identify and measure your tree, calculate your trees total points, describe the location of your tree, and provide other information required on the Oregon Champion Tree Nomination Form.


You must include the common and scientific name of the tree you are nominating. There are several references that can help you correctly identify the tree. The following is a favorite and works as a great field book.

Manual of Oregon Trees and Shrubs edited by Ed Jensen.

Also, identify and describe the tree's condition and its physical characteristics.  Is there a pronounced lean to the trunk?  Is it forked at the top?  Are there multiple trunks at the base?  Has it been hit by lightening or scorched by fire?  These characteristics help us to locate your tree and will make it easier for us to verify your nomination.


To accurately measure and document a tree it helps to have a few simple tools, as well as an assistant.

·       A long measuring tape (100-300 feet)

·       Calculator

·       A notepad and pencil or instruments for record keeping

·       Hand level

·       Hypsometer, TruePulse laser or a clinometer

·       GPS

·       Camera

General measuring instructions are discussed below.  If you still have questions, check out Eastern Native Tree Society's very informative (Measurmening Guidlines PDF) or American Forest's (Big Tree Measuring Guide)


Use a measuring tape to determine the tree's circumference and record the result in inches.  If it is a very large tree, have someone help you keep the tape level.

If the tree has a single trunk, your measurement needs to be made about the tree 4 1/2 feet above the ground at mid-slope.  If the tree forks below or bulges at 4 1/2 feet, measure the circumference at the point below 4 1/2 feet where the tree tapers to normal size.

If the tree has multiple trunks below 4½ feet, you must find the narrowest diameter below the trunk division. For a very large tree sitting on a very steep slope, it may be necessary to measure its circumference above the 4½-foot mid-slope point.  In this instance, attempt to measure the tree as near as possible to the ground level on the uphill side.  Then measure the number of feet above the mid-slope point where the circumference measurement was taken and record this information.

  • The circumference in inches also gives you the tree's total circumference points (circumference inches = circumference points).


Measure the height from the ground level to the highest point. You can measure height with an instrument such as an clinometer, hypsometer, or transit.  Otherwise, use a straight stick that has been cut to the exact length of your arm.  Walk away from the tree to a point where, by holding the stick vertically at arm's length, the entire tree's vertical centerline is hidden behind the stick.  Drive a stake into the ground where you are standing, then measure in a straight, level line the number of feet between the stake and the base of the tree.  This will give you the tree's approximate height.

The Indiana Division of Forestry recommends another method of measuring tree height. First, temporarily mark a spot 4 feet from the base of the tree to serve as a sighting point.  Back away from the tree, holding a yardstick vertically in front of you. It must be straight for an accurate measurement.  Stop when the 4-foot section of the tree occupies exactly 1 inch of the yardstick.  Sight to the base and the top of the tree, noting the number of inches the entire tree height occupies.  Multiply that number by 4 feet to determine the total tree height.

  • The height in feet finds tree's total height points (height in feet = height points)


To find the tree's average crown spread, you first must find the point in the tree's crown that is the widest.  Walk around underneath the tree and visually assess where the tree's branches extend the farthest from the trunk.  Drive a stake into the ground directly beneath this point, and following a line directly through the center of the tree's base, find the opposite side of the crown's widest point and drive a second stake into the ground.  Follow the same process to mark the 90 degree axis of the crown's spread from the first measurement.

  • Add these two measurements together and divide by two, and the result is the tree's average crown spread.

  • To calculate the tree's total crown spread points, simply divide the average crown spread by 4 and that will give you the tree's quarter-crown-spread points.


Once you've completed the measurements and calculations described above, determining your tree's total points is easy!  Simply add together the tree's circumference, height, and quarter-crown-spread points.  That's the number that will be used to decide if you've found a champion.  If your tree has more points than any other of its species, or is within 10 points of the biggest so far recorded for its kind, your tree will be recognized as a champ!


Providing a good description of your tree's location is critical.  If we can't find it, we can't verify it.  And, if we can't verify it, your tree can't go in the Oregon Champion Tree Registry.

As a start, indicate where your tree can be found by specifying the county, the nearest town, and "“ using a standard map "“ identify the township, range, section and quarter section. Provide written driving and/or hiking instructions starting from the nearest cross street or mile marker on a specified highway. Make a map of the tree's location.  Draw it on the grid page that is part of the nomination form.  Indicate prominent landmarks such as rivers and streams, rock outcrops and cliff faces, power lines and bridges, and roads and trails.  Of course, the best location information is GPS coordinates "“ so if you can, please provide them.

Providing photographs

Include a photographs of the tree.  If possible, please provide photos of the following:

  • The surrounding landscape

  • A profile shot of the whole tree

  • Close-up of the trunk

  • Any identifiable characteristics that would help us locate the tree


Note whether the land is public or private.  If the land is private, write down who owns the land where the tree is located, how to contact them, and whether there are access restrictions.  If known, include the landowner's address and telephone number.


Include your name, mailing address, email address, telephone number, and the dates the tree was measured and photographed.  If someone else made the measurements or took the photograph, write down their name.  Finally, be sure to sign your nomination form and record the date of its submission.