BOTKINS — The Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is excited to announce the winner of the 2023 Shelby County Big Tree Contest is a 26-inch diameter Shagbark Hickory at Koenig Equipment Shared Resource Center in Botkins, Ohio. Koenig Equipment will be awarded a plaque commemorating their Big Tree at the Shelby SWCD Annual banquet on Thursday, Dec. 7.
The featured tree species of the 2023 Shelby County Big Tree Contest was the Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata). With eye-catching shaggy strips that curl and peel off the trunk, the bark is one of the most distinct in North America making the Shagbark Hickory easy to identify year-round. In addition, this shaggy bark provides shelter for bats, butterflies, and countless insects. The exceptional strength of Shagbark Hickory timber is prized for making tool handles, athletic equipment, furniture, firewood, and chips for smoking meats. A member of the walnut family, the Shagbark Hickory produces edible nuts which are relished by squirrels, mice, wood ducks, wild turkeys, and foxes, to name a few. The leaves are compound with typically five leaflets, which turn a rich golden mustard-brown color in the fall.
Of the winning tree Audrey Nitschke, marketing coordinator at Koenig Equipment, says, “Just as this tree has a rich history and keeps growing, so does Koenig Equipment. So, it’s fitting that this tree is showcased in front of our corporate headquarters.”
She reports the Shared Resource Center which houses their corporate headquarters was built around the Shagbark Hickory in 2007. Nitschke said they decided to nominate the big tree after Greg Koenig saw an advertisement for the contest and thought the tree would make a good candidate.
The Shelby County Big Tree Contest is a voluntary, free to enter contest that is a new contest for the SWCD this year. The contest aims to promote the beauty and benefits provided by Shelby county’s biggest and oldest trees, along with their contributions to clean water and healthy soil. Using a benefit calculator on the Arbor Day website it was determined that a 26-inch diameter Shagbark Hickory can intercept 3,718 gallons of stormwater runoff and reduce atmospheric carbon by 1,355 pounds of carbon in a year. Trees have many benefits.
Measurements and identification of the winning tree was confirmed by an Ohio Department of Natural resources Division of Forestry state forester.
Shelby SWCD plans to host the contest again next year and hopes to have even more trees nominated. The species of tree that will be highlighted next year has not been decided and recommendations can be sent to Amanda Hurley at [email protected]. Follow Shelby Soil & Water Conservation District on Facebook or join the Shelby SWCD email list by emailing Amanda at the above email address for more information about the Shelby County Big Tree Contest and other SWCD activities. If you are interested in adding trees to your property, Shelby SWCD is currently taking orders for their Annual Tree Seedling Sale. See www.shelbyswcd.org or visit the office at 822 Fair Road, Sidney for an order form and more information about the sale. Orders are due by Friday, March 29.