POWELL — Everything on the Fisher farm has a job — even the trees. But one of Bernice Fisher’s trees has been working overtime.
Fisher has the largest American elm in the state of Wyoming, certified June 7 by the Wyoming State Forestry Department. The tree is so large, it obliterated the previous record holder from Gillette. It scored a 264.63, beating the previous record of 215.
The elm grows next to Fisher’s farmhouse on the outskirts of Powell, shading the stucco structure and helping slow the wind. She was surprised by the news, but isn’t making preparations for crowds of arborist paparazzi blocking her drive.
“I knew it was big, but I had no idea,” said Fisher, 88.
Josh Pomeroy, owner of Blue Ribbon Tree Service, nominated the Fisher elm, calling it the biggest American elm he’s ever seen.
“It probably had a bigger crown spread before I pruned it,” he said.
Pomeroy said he thinks the elm is more than 100 years old and was probably planted when the land was homesteaded. It has a twin growing on the other side of the sidewalk leading to the front door, but it’s not quite as large.
“There’s not a lot around,” Pomeroy said of American elms. “Most were lost to Dutch elm disease in the ’70s.”
The Fisher elms are isolated from most area trees, an oasis of shade in the middle of hundreds of acres of crops.
To certify a champion tree, the circumference, height and crown spread must be measured. Fisher’s award winning Ulmus americana is 95 feet tall. Brian Russell, assistant district forester for the Wyoming State Forestry Department measured the specimen to certify the record.
Unless a tree is nominated, there’s no telling how many champions could be out there, said Tara Costanzo, community resource forester for the state. There are 48 champion species of trees on the record books in the Cowboy State, but there are more varieties of trees growing here.
“We always welcome more [species],” she said, adding, “The program promotes tree diversity and showcases the largest of the species in our state.”
The Fisher elm is the only champion in Park County. Are there more?
“Not very many people even know there’s a champion tree program,” said Pomeroy.
To be sure, the Fisher elm is a big tree, but it has some more growing to measure up to the national champion American elm. The nation’s largest is from Iberville, Louisiana, with a score of 455. Oddly, though being one of the tallest trees of any species in the state registry, Bernice’s shade tree isn’t even the tallest tree in her yard; that honor belongs to a nearby pine.