I. Sense of purpose and mission
It is the mission of the Brazos County Historical Commission (BCHC) to preserve Brazos County's heritage for the use, education, enjoyment and economic benefit of present and future generations. While the most visible efforts of the BCHC have involved ensuring the preservation of historic buildings, sites, artifacts, and documents, the Commission also believes that various aspects of our natural environment are County historical assets which should be identified and preserved.
In keeping with this mission, the Brazos County Heritage Tree Registry (HTR) is established to record the location of certain significant trees within the County. Through this voluntary Registry, the BCHC seeks to encourage the identification of heritage trees, promote their protection and preservation, educate members of the public about our local heritage trees, and acknowledge their economic value to their individual owners and the community at large.
Identification and preservation of heritage trees also promotes the BCHC goal of promoting preservation of the historic parts of our community. Heritage trees are often found in the oldest settled areas of the county, and often represent our only living link to the past.
II. Process for nomination and inclusion on HTR
Qualified trees will be considered for the Registry upon their nomination, which must be accompanied by sufficient documentation to establish that the tree meets standards established by the BCHC. The BCHC will benefit from the advice and counsel of experienced foresters and arborists to determine which trees should be included on the registry. In broad terms, trees eligible for inclusion will represent certain durable species either native or well adapted to this area: e.g. post oaks, live oaks, certain red oaks, white oaks, pecans, sycamores, cedars and cottonwoods. From time to time, the Heritage Tree Committee may amend the list of qualified trees, based on advice from experts.
A nomination form combining the Texas Forest Service (TFS) Big Tree Registry Nomination Form and the TFS Famous Tree form, including measuring rules and procedures will be used. The integrated form will clearly be a BCHC form, with acknowledgment given to the TFS at the bottom of the form. Permission has been granted by the TFS for this use.
In general, all nominations must be approved by the owner of the property where the tree is located, although some exceptions should be allowed for good cause shown.
The Heritage Tree Committee (HTC) is established to recommend and advise the BCHC on matters involving the HTR. Members will be appointed by the chair, and may include community members with expertise regarding trees. The HTC should meet twice/year to review pending nominations, or more frequently if conditions so indicate. Upon authorization by the BCHC, the HTC will employ publicity and other outreach measures, particularly should applications lag.
The HTC will seek advice and/or membership of trained foresters, arborists, or horticulturists to evaluate trees for inclusion. If no such volunteers are available, community members with respectable background in such things, such as Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists or any other residents with knowledge of such topics will be recruited.
Given the somewhat technical criteria within the process of nomination review, and the qualifications of the committee, the recommendations of the HTC should be considered reliable and with sound basis. Typical BCHC procedure should be to accept recommendations of the HTC regarding inclusion on registry without prolonged discussion. The BCHC will retain final authority over confirmation of all recommendations made by the HTC.
III. Standards for inclusion on registry, must meet A or B:
Conditions required for all trees:
The tree must be in reasonably good health and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
The individual or entity submitting the nomination form should commit to protect, preserve and defend the tree, and not remove it except in cases of urgent public necessity, safety hazard, terminal disease, etc. Although not a factor considered as part of the nomination process, each request for inclusion will require that the applicant provide an estimation of the economic and ecological benefits the individual tree provides. The actual quantitative numbers provided by the applicant will be obtained through use of U.S. Forest Service i-Tree software design tool designed for that purpose. The software is in the public domain and freely accessible at http://www.itreetools.org/design.php Applicants without computer access will be assisted in obtaining this number by the HTC, if necessary.
Finally, the tree must qualify under either A or B, below:
Due to the varying growth characteristics of trees eligible for inclusion on the registry, the HTC will produce a list by species establishing minimum size requirements. Common TFS measuring rules will be employed to determine size. Typically, the standard measurement of Diameter Breast Height (DBH), measured 4.5' above ground, will determine whether or not a particular tree will meet the size requirement. Special consideration will be given to trees that are part of the landscape at a designated historic site.
B. Cultural/historical affiliation
The tree must possess significant historical connection to an event, person, group, or site, e.g., memorial tree plantings with sufficient documentation.
IV. Marking of Registered Heritage Trees
The Brazos County Heritage Tree logo will be used on each marker. Markers should be made of permanently marked metal not likely to be stolen, but that is quite durable. (Stainless steel or lead is preferred at this point, but more research is needed.) These can be attached with a single nail or screw into the tree. If metal is used, we should assure there will be no electrolysis problems with the metal in the screw. The HTC may elect to provide an alternative form of marker installed on a post into the ground.
Each tree will be given a unique number that will correspond to a number on the registry. The tree number will be stamped or engraved onto the marker before placement.
HTC should consider using the "Everytrail" smartphone application to mark the heritage trees and provide information to interested parties.
Postings on BCHC website of nomination form, pictures and location of tree, whether available for public inspection. This is where we should list an estimated value of the tree, based on some type of fairly objective calculation by an experienced person.
Press releases when program begins, then additional releases when new trees are added. Two times/year seems like a good interval for the announcements of new trees, although we could go down to once/year. Ask Fran Lamb for her thoughts on how to obtain the greatest exposure.
Heritage Highlights program mention of the program, highlight a tree on occasion.
Broadcast Media: Visit community TV programs, call into "Garden Success" on TAMU once website set up, ready for nominations.
Earth Day, Arbor Day events: participate in these by distributing information. BVMNH: participate in appropriate events, distribute information card there?
On request, the BCHC will provide documentation that registered trees are on the HTR.
We will endeavor to provide some sort of certificate suitable for framing upon entering a tree on the registry.
BCHC should seek out sources of funding for markers—perhaps Tree City programs. It would be nice if the markers were not expensive, so that the expense does not discourage nominations.
When funds allow, support an initial consultation with a forester, arborist, or Master Gardener for a one-time inspection of tree health including oral advice to owner regarding care.