When Myrna West’s parents planted the Chinese Fir that sits on her property 80 years ago, they expected the tree to grow about six feet.
“The salesman who sold it to Mama said it would never get over head high,” she said.
On Friday, the “little” tree that now stands 76 feet tall was named a champion tree by the Dawson County Tree Preservation committee.
“Isn’t that funny,” she said, holding her award at the county’s Arbor Day celebration at Veterans Memorial Park.
The committee also honored Georgia Forestry during the ceremony by naming the group Tree Preservationist of the Year in Dawson County.
“About 80 percent of Dawson County land is in forestry and that is a lot of land to maintain,” said committee chair Dave Hinderliter. “(Forestry) does a wonderful job, and they continue to do a wonderful job with a lot less money.”
Saying she was honored by the gesture, Ranger Carolyn Sweatman added the award could have just as easy have gone to the committee for its efforts to bring awareness to trees.
“They’re honoring us, but it should be that we are honoring them,” she said. “They put all the work into events like today for Arbor Day and they really push to bring awareness out.”
The committee planted a Princeton American Elm at the park as a dedication to forestry.
Ranger Charles Bailey said the tree, which is possibly the only Princeton Elm in Dawson County, holds special meaning to him.
“Back in the ‘20s, the American Elm was the premiere street tree on the eastern seaboard, but a fungus wiped out all of those trees except a few very small, resistant populations,” he said.
“These today are clones from the resistant populations. It should do well here.”