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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography


Searching for big trees at Congaree

Measuring Champions at Congaree National Park

Volunteers, under the direction of USC geography professor John Kupfer, are surveying and measuring champion trees in the Congaree National Park.

Volunteers, under the direction of USC geography professor John Kupfer, are surveying and measuring champion trees in the Congaree National Park.

If you’ve ever hiked through the Congaree National Park, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the world’s largest loblolly pine, which, at nearly 170 feet tall, is pretty hard to miss. But you might have seen a few other record-setting trees as well — without even realizing it.

Known as champion trees, these lofty specimens represent the largest known examples of their type, either nationally or in-state, as determined by a formula that considers height, circumference and crown area. A 1996 partial survey of the 26,000-acre park identified dozens of champion trees.

Now, thanks to the efforts of USC geography professor John Kupfer and a team of graduate students, National Park Service rangers and “citizen scientists,” a new survey is underway that will not only update the 1996 statistics but will also give the public a more comprehensive picture of the park’s living treasures.

Read this entire article written by Craig Brandhorst at: http://www.sc.edu/uofsc/stories/2014/1_congaree_swamp_trees.php#.Ut7Xc7ROm71