Biggest TX Oak Tree on TPL Protected Land

WEST COLUMBIA, Texas, 4/29/03 – The Texas Forest Service announced today it has discovered the largest live oak tree in Texas, located about an hour south of Houston on land permanently protected by the Trust for Public Land.

The tree, part of a 1, 271-acre tract added to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge in Brazoria County, measures more than 32.2 feet in circumference, stands 67 feet high, and has a crown spread of 100 feet.

“So many important historical events have occurred in the Austin’s Woods area and this enormous tree has been here through all of them,” said Valarie Bristol, Texas state director of TPL, a national nonprofit which protects land for people. “There’s such a rich history here. We are very grateful that we have been able to help protect this important piece of Texas’ past.”

For example, Santa Anna and members of his army were marched through the area to Velasco, Texas after they were captured at the famous Battle of San Jacinto, which occurred on April 21, 1836 near what is present-day Houston. The battle led to the creation of the Republic of Texas.

“This tree is just huge – even for a live oak,” said Mickey Merritt, the Texas Forest Service forester in Houston, who officially measured the tree in January. “Its circumference really makes the difference when you compare it to other trees of the same species.”

Merritt said the tree will be added to the Texas Forest Service’s Big Tree Registry, which lists the largest example of every tree species in the state. It eclipses the famous “Big Tree” at Goose Island State Park near Rockland, which had been the live oak champion since 1966.

For the past four years, TPL has worked in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to purchase and conserve native wetland tracts, characterized by bottomland hardwood forest, swamp, and marsh, along the Texas Gulf Coast. In 1999, TPL conveyed 2,378 acres in Brazoria County to the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, which is administered by FWS. Two years later, TPL conveyed the 1,271-acre tract which includes the new champion live oak and last year, another tract of 654 acres was added. Thus far, TPL has preserved more than 4,400 acres along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, and ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and businesses. In Texas, TPL has protected more than 22,000 acres for communities, including San Antonio, Austin and Houston. TPL’s Texas offices are in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.