The black willow, located at 9839 Watercress Drive, is a Texas champion tree. It stands 67 feet tall.
The green ash is a 64-foot-tall tree in the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. Located at Ten Mile Bridge and Wells Burnett Road, the tree is in an area that is currently dealing with high water levels.
The Heritage Tree Program began in 2009, after an old tree was cut down to make room for a driving range.
The Heritage Tree Program’s objective is to bring attention to historic trees and connect them to the local community. By classifying a tree as part of the heritage program, the tree is recognized as a local landmark.
The first urban forester was hired by the city in the 1920s, but Fort Worth started regulating forestry earlier than this. In 1873, the city made hitching a horse to a tree illegal.
The forestry team, ran by the city forester, cleans up streets after storms and cares for a tree farm. The tree farm produces about 600 trees a year, which can be replanted around the city or adopted by citizens.
Melinda Adams, the city forester, received a degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University.
“I went into forestry because I knew sooner rather than later it was going to be so important to plant and protect trees, to try and offset the negative things that we’ve done to the environment,” Adams said.
To be selected as a heritage tree, a tree must meet at least one of the Heritage Program’s guidelines:
- Be located in Fort Worth city limits
- Possess an unusual size, age, species significance or other characteristic that contributes to its heritage status
- Be located on a historic site, such as the Trader’s Oak, or contribute to the history of a site
- Enjoy notoriety, such as the I-30 homeless Christmas tree
- Serve as a well-known landmark, such as the Martel Avenue and Oakland Boulevard pecan trees
- Contribute to significant community ties
“The main criteria of a heritage tree is the shared experience it creates,” Adams said. “It has to have some cultural significance. Just because someone has a big tree in their backyard doesn’t mean it’s a heritage tree – even though it may be nice.”
Citizens can nominate trees by filling out the nomination form. A committee reviews the nominations, and every year the new heritage trees are announced at the city’s Arbor Day festivities. There is no ordinance for protection to accompany the Heritage Tree Program.
Adams credits the program’s success of preserving important trees to the awareness of the program.
“Just knowing that a tree is a heritage tree gives leverage for us to better protect it,” Adams said.
American Forests, a national nonprofit conservation organization, keeps records of champion trees through the National Big Tree Program. A champion tree is classified as the largest tree on record for a particular species.
According to the Fort Worth Parks and Recreation Department, trees are located and measured after they are nominated. Champion trees are routinely measured to keep the lists accurate.
The Texas Forest Service keeps its own record of Texas champion trees.