California researchers say they have found and measured the largest canyon live oak in existence, which is probably also the largest U.S. oak of any species.
The California Wildlands Conservancy members trekked up the wilderness above Yucaipa in the San Bernardino Mountains recently, the Los Angeles Times reported. The seven naturalists, armed with cameras, measuring tape and lasers, took precise measurements.
"Hell of a tree," the Times said Geena Burgess whispered.
Certification by the non-profit American Forests organization's National Big Tree Program as the country's top "champion" oak takes three measurements: trunk circumference in inches; height in feet and average crown spread in feet. Total points are determined through this calculation: circumference plus height plus 1/4 the average crown spread, the Times said.
The team's first measurements gave the Yucaipa oak, towering over U.S. Forest Service land, 621 points, a possible record.
"We're here today in hopes of picking up a few more points with new measurements taken with better instruments," David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, told the newspaper. "There's a good chance our oak blows away all competitors."
The team said the oak is 499 inches in circumference, 97 feet high and 98 feet in average crown spread.
An oak in Louisiana tallied 570 points and one in Mendocino County once garnered 628 points before being reduced to 520 point after new measurements.