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Volume 16, Issue 32 - August 7 - August 13, 2008

Good Luck Hugging
the Wilmer Stone Oak

At more than 20 feet circumference, this tree is hard to wrap your arms around

The Wilmer Stone Oak isn’t as wide as the 372-inch-wide Wye Oak.

It isn’t as old as Flora’s Oak, at maybe 300 years.

But it’s alive, and they’re dead.

Thus the 128-foot-tall oak is big enough to be Maryland’s newest State Tree.

Under the nationwide Big Tree Program — begun in Maryland — each state’s largest tree within a species is that species’ champion tree. In Maryland, the white oak holds a special place as our State Tree, an honor bestowed by Legislature in 1941. Each champion white oak traditionally succeeds to that lofty position.

After the previous state champion Flora’s Oak fell in June, Maryland Big Tree volunteers nominated the Wilmer Oak for both titles.

Contenders are rated on a point system, adding height, trunk circumference and crown width. The tree with the most points wins.

With a height of 128 feet, a crown spread of 83 feet and a circumference of 253 inches, the Wilmer Stone Oak claims 402, pointier than any other white oak in Maryland.

The statistics do not compare to the wonder of beholding the massive oak in all its glory. The rest of the trees in the forest are shrubs in comparison.

A portion of the oak was destroyed in 1988, making it jut out to the side in a broken Y formation, or it would have surpassed the National Champion in Virginia, a 427 pointer.

The Wilmer Oak is not only a high point scorer; it’s also closer to home than the past two champions. The Wye Oak, which met its downfall in a 2002 thunderstorm, lived and died in Talbot County. The Flora lived and was overtaken by heavy storm winds, in Montgomery County.

The Wilmer Oak stands tall in Arnold Park off Jones Station Road in Anne Arundel County.

“If there’s a tree worth hugging, this is it,” said Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold in announcing the big tree’s standing as white oak champion August 1. Will the big oak succeed Flora’s Oak as the State Tree? That’s up to the governor.

The oak was named for tree-hugging forester Wilmer Theodore Stone, who once owned the 200-year-old tree.

See more at

–Rachel Rabold

Politics Not As Usual

Democrats and Republicans talk shop and share cookies, juice and handshakes

As the presidential race nears the stretch, the big boys could learn some lessons from local politicos.

At the invitation of the Heritage Harbour Homeowner’s Association, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, a Republican, and county councilman Josh Cohen, a Democrat, put aside political differences to get things done for the greater common good. More than 200 residents flocked to listen as they reported on future county plans and to voice their concerns about county issues.

Residents queued up to speak. Community activist Shirley Lieberman expressed concern about the future use of the Crownsville hospital site and hoped an assisted-living facility would be erected there. Cohen reported he’s negotiating with the state to give the county priority on the property.

Gerry Loren stated his opposition to slots. Leopold personally agreed but said he would have to await the results of a statewide referendum.

Residents complained that the county was not fixing potholes or removing dead trees. Leopold’s advice: report complaints to the responsible county office. If still not satisfied, phone his assistant, Deborah Poulin, at 410-222-1260. Got a problem for Josh Cohen? Phone his assistant, Gail Smith, at 410-222-1401.

The meeting concluded with Democrats and Republicans enjoying free cookies, juice and handshakes all around.

–Bill Wohlfeld

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.