In just a few minutes this touching new film captures the story of California-based Big Tree Hunter Carl Casey and his discovery of a new Champion Sugar Pine in California—the largest known pine tree in the world. In recent years all four pines to previously hold the title have died, due to drought, pine bark beetle, and other natural and manmade scourges.
Roughly three years after Casey’s find was officially crowned the National Champion Sugar Pine, New York-based photographer and filmmaker and Gathering Growth Foundation founder Brian Kelley was able to meet with Casey and tell his story,
As for Kelley’s story, and how he came to found a foundation similarly focused on big trees, read on below.
"These trees deserve to have their legacies be preserved—to have people know they exist.”
“Olympic National Park was the first time I saw really big trees,” Kelley tells us, “the ones you can’t really comprehend.” The moment lead him to start a life long personal project called Gathering Growth, focused on documenting America’s Champion Trees—the largest of their species. The project has since grown into a proper foundation with an expanded interest in more than just champion trees, but forests of all kind and other trees of significance.
The goal remains the same though: to inspire and inform the public on the necessities of forest preservation and the importance of trees in our everyday lives.
“I think these trees deserve to have their legacies be preserved at the highest quality," Kelley continues, "to have people know they exist.”
If this film hit home and you'd like to support the ongoing efforts of Gathering Growth Foundation, the organization is now accepting donations.