In March of 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, Tree People of Walla Walla published the Walking Guide To The Big Trees of Walla Walla. This was the third edition and it had been in preparation for over a year.
The Walking Guide was published with generous help from Tim Copeland of the Blue Mountain Land Trust and other donors. It is now out of print, and we believe this edition will be the last.
The paragraphs below are the introduction we wrote for the 3rd edition.
the magnificent trees of walla walla
When Lewis and Clark passed through the area in 1805 the only sizable trees they found were native cottonwood, birch, hawthorne, willow, and chokecherry. But the early settlers brought their favorite plants and trees from their former homes. For two centuries we’ve continued to introduce new trees. Now when we look around our valley, we realize nearly every tree we see here has been introduced.
That happy circumstance continues and today we live in an oasis of trees from across North America as well as exotics from Europe and Asia. In recent years Walla Walla has become known as the home of many of the largest trees in the state. Champion Trees of Washington State, published in 1996 and compiled by Robert Van Pelt, identified 44 trees in Walla Walla worthy of inclusion in his landmark collection.
Earlier editions of this walking guide were edited by Van Pelt’s local collaborator Shirley Muse of the Blue Mountain Audubon Society, and were based on Van Pelt’s championship rankings. Sadly, trees are subject to the ravages of time. Moreover, they are subject to the chainsaw. At least 29% of the trees listed in Muse’s original guide have been lost or altered, thereby disqualifying them.
New champion tree data has not been compiled or published since Van Pelt’s 1996 book. No one has assumed responsibility since for collecting data and ranking Washington’s champion trees. Therefore rankings are not provided in this edition.
Readers of this 3rd edition of Walking Guide to the Big Trees of Walla Walla will discover that the editors have been freed to include more types of trees, more maps, and unlike previous editions, actual guided walking tours. Our goal is to celebrate our great diversity of trees.
We hope you enjoy your tours of the magnificent trees of Walla Walla, as much as we have enjoyed compiling this collection for you.
Gayle Foster Bodorff and Thomas Mair, Editors