Our Forests and Their Champion Trees

Walking through the woods, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the wondrous world of trees. For decades or even centuries, the trees on our preserves and throughout New Canaan filter our air and water, absorb carbon, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Often, it’s not until one ofthese towering giants falls that we realize just how remarkable its life was.

Such is the story of a magnificent Red Oak that recently fell at the Watson-Symington Preserve. After clearing the tree’s massive branches from the trail, Land Trust Executive Director Aaron Lefland cut a cross-section of the tree and counted more than 100 annual growth rings, pictured here. The full story of this tree can be found on our website’s blog. It details the tree’s life which pre-dates the American Civil War.

With your help, we will discover even more of New Canaan’s remarkable trees.


Launched in partnership with New Canaan Library, the New Canaan Champion Tree Project is a citizen science project that engages our community in identifying New Canaan’s biggest trees. Citizen science kits can be borrowed from the library and contain everything needed to measure big trees: a tape measure, height gauge, tree identification book, and a datasheet.

Trees are too often taken for granted. I was drawn to the project as a way to support the trees that provide so many benefits to us all. Many of our trees are suffering, and this was a rewarding way to help the Land Trust gather information that can be used to protect our town’s magnificent trees.” —Jim Westlake, local citizen scientist


Once trees are measured, they are submitted into a database managed by the Land Trust. Local champions are then remeasured for consideration as State or even National champions.


Thanks to the help of our many citizen scientists, we’ve been able to identify and catalog some of the Land Trust’s largest trees. This information helps us better understand how much carbon is stored on our preserves and about the health and variety of the many trees that make up our suburban forest.

You are also helping to discover more of the natural wonders that exist at the Land Trust’s preserve. Whether it be a towering Red Oak at Watson-Symington, or a hardy American Chestnut at Browne Preserve, your support ensures that these incredible trees – and New Canaan’s special places – are protected forever.