2012 Champion Trees
Southern red oak
Score: 277 (158 inches in circumference and 94 feet tall with a 98 feet average crown spread)
On Jackie and Lynn Townley's War Hill Park Road property
Score: 239 (130 inches in circumference and 86 feet tall with a 91 feet average crown spread)
On the Townley's War Hill Park Road property
Score: 246 (158 inches in circumference and 67 feet tall with an 84 feet average crown spread)
On Nell Watson's Elliott Family Parkway property
Score: 170 (91 inches in circumference and 68 feet tall with a 42 feet average crown spread)
On Peggy Hulsey's War Hill Park Road property
The only memory Peggy Hulsey has of the 68-foot Southern magnolia on her property is that her father didn't like it.
"Daddy hated the tree because they make such a mess, but [my mom] loved it," she said. "Nobody was going to cut down that tree as long as she was there, and it's still there."
The stately tree on War Hill Park Road is now a county champion, meaning it's the largest Southern magnolia scored in Dawson.
Hulsey said her mom, Lillian Taylor, who set out the tree more than six decades ago, would be proud.
"I know my mother would have been thrilled to death," Hulsey said.
The Southern magnolia was one of four recognized as county champions Friday by the Dawson County Tree Pre-servationists Committee during the Georgia Arbor Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park.
The other trees included Nell Watson's 67-feet tall silver maple on Elliott Family Parkway and two oak trees, a Southern red oak and a scarlet oak, in Jackie and Lynn Townley's front yard near Liberty Church Road.
Georgia Forestry Ranger Tony Page praised the winners for being good stewards of the trees.
"[We want] not only to recognize these trees, but the people that have preserved and protected them," he said. "We appreciate people that try to preserve these trees and protect them when they are doing construction work."
The annual Arbor Day celebration, which is co-sponsored by Keep Dawson County Beautiful, also marks the occasion to name Dawson County's Tree Preservationist of the Year.
A tradition since 2006, the award commemorates businesses, groups or individuals who have made concerted efforts to protect and preserve trees when commercial or residential development occurs.
This year's recipients were the residents of Crooked Tree, a small subdivision off North Seed Tick Road in northern Dawson County.
With large, heavily wooded lots, "Crooked Tree is a wonderful place," said Dave Hinderliter, tree preservations committee chairman.
"If you want to see what building houses and saving trees is all about, go over and take a look at Crooked Tree."
Resident Ruth Sutton agreed.
"Come on over and see us, but wait till spring when it's just beautiful," she said.
A tree was planted at the park in the group's honor with an engraved marker recognizing its effort to preserve and protect.