Maps of the world's most important wilderness areas are now freely available online.
The forests you see today are not what you will see in the future. That's the overarching finding from a new study on the resilience of Rocky Mountain forests.
The first step to tree work after a snowstorm is to get rid of the snow, at least on the immediate job site. “We actually bring a snowblower to job sites with us to clear the snow, or sometimes we have a small skid steer on the job … or we’ll just have four or five guys shovel out the area … because it’s so hard to trample through the snow if we remove wood debris off the property,” says Robert Vedernack Jr., president of Arbor Care Solutions Tree Service in the Chicago area. “We’ll sometimes remove all the snow from an entire yard throughout the day if we have to.”
He emphasizes that the time spent to move this snow at the beginning of the job will easily pay off in the form of improved efficiency while tree work is taking place. Trying to drag branches to a chipper through a foot of snow is no fun, and it’s slow. “Believe me, you make up for that 20 or 30 minutes of snow-clearing work if you’re going to be on a job all day,” he states.
“It takes a lot longer to get a site set up,” after a snowstorm, says Trumbull Barrett, owner of Barrett Tree Service East, servicing the Boston area. Not only clearing the snow, but even just getting property owners’ vehicles out of the way after a snowstorm can be tricky, because there’s often no place to put them. Enough snow must be cleared so that there’s a safe area to work in. “Once everything is set up, though, we can usually operate at a pretty normal pace … And it’s definitely worth putting in the effort upfront, because then you can do a really nice job for the clients,” he states.
James Rehil, a climber with Alexander and Wilson Tree Care and Services in northern Michigan, says that tree care equipment needs extra attention, as well, when it’s out working in and after snow events. “We check to make sure that there’s no ice or snow buildup on our ropes and that everything is working correctly with our blocks. We don’t want that buildup to make things slippery, make the hitches not work correctly or make our ropes not run through the blocks properly,” he explains.
All of the normal safety practices remain important, but you also need to always be thinking about what additional impacts the snow and ice might be having, he stresses. “Just about everything about doing tree work can be more dangerous in the winter,” says Rehil. “Everything is colder outside, so the trees react differently. Then there can be snow and ice loads on the trees.”
And Rehil says that calls after snowstorms often involve trees down on structures. “They come down on houses, barns, sheds, vehicles, etc.,” he says. In that regard, working after snowstorms is a lot like cleaning up after any other time of storm event, adds Rehil. “There are a lot of pressure points you need to watch out for — spring poles, things like that. You need to be prepared for just about everything.”
“We dress a lot differently in the winter — different gloves, different boots,” says Vedernack. “You can’t move at the same pace, both because of the snow itself, because of safety concerns and because you’re wearing different clothing. When you’re wearing bigger clothing, you’re just naturally going to be a little more sluggish and slow.”
In some ways, that’s just as well, he points out. “When we’re working in snow, we’re definitely not in a hurry to do anything. Everything we do, we really think about before we do it.”
Sometimes it may take an hour to set up to get a limb off a roof, when it only takes 15 minutes to do the actual job, says Vedernack.
While the clothing is different, Vedernack says that, for the most part, the equipment he uses is set up for all-season use. “The exception would be on a big land-clearing job,” he notes. “If you’re running a skid steer, there are actually winter tracks and summer tracks — hard metal tracks and rubber tracks — so there are some changes you can make so that equipment runs better in the cold and snow.”
Vedernack says that working in snow is part of the job. “We work all year-round, so snow is just something that we have to deal with,” he says. He also notes that sometimes the most dangerous part is running the company trucks out on the roads after a snowstorm. “It’s not exactly easy driving around in a 50,000-pound truck when there’s snow flying everywhere,” he says. Even if crews are trained on the safe operation of vehicles in the snow, there is always danger from other drivers. “Sometimes just getting to the job is more dangerous than the tree work on the job.” says Vedernack.
There’s also usually more work to do when the trucks come back at the end of a day out on snowy roads, says Barrett. “We do a lot more washing of equipment than we normally do, just to get all of the salt off the trucks and chippers. So that adds some time, too,” he explains. Overall, though, Barrett says that things have a way of evening out. In the summer, much more care must be taken when working to avoid doing any damage to the property. “You have to take a lot more care of the lawn and the flowers and vegetable gardens,” he says. In the winter, the ground is often either snow-covered or frozen hard. “Things are either dormant or dead, so you can have a little heavier footprint in the winter,” he points out, “so there’s often more access.”
Barrett also notes that, at least when it’s not actively snowing, winter is a great time to do tree work. “If you have the right clothing and footwear, you can work in pretty much any condition that nature can throw at you. So, it’s important to make that investment in the proper clothing,” says Barrett. “We really work hard to make sure everyone has the right clothing and equipment, and then we can do great work in the winter, as well.”
The post Challenges Of Tree Work: During And After Winter Storms appeared first on Tree Services.
A study has found that the rare Henst's goshawk of Madagascar hunts lemurs in low-lying areas that are most at risk to deforestation. Researchers could use this isotope analysis to study the habitat and prey needs of other threatened species that are difficult to track.
The loss of forests in Africa in the past century is substantially less than previously estimated, an analysis of historical records and paleontology evidence shows.
Controlled burning of forestland helped limit the severity of one of California's largest wildfires, according to geographers.
The fresh, unmistakable scent of a pine forest comes from a medley of chemicals produced by its trees. Researchers have now accurately determined the chemical structure of one compound in its gas phase, a molecule called alpha-pinene. The analysis can help scientists better detect and understand how alpha-pinene reacts with other gases in the atmosphere, a process that can affect health and climate.
Freshwater resources are critical to both human civilization and natural ecosystems, but researchers have discovered that changes to ground vegetation can have as much of an impact on global water resources as climate change.
As long as trees continue to grow outdoors, tree care work is going to take place out in the elements. That means dealing with heat, wind, sun, dust, pollen, rain, cold and, for those working in many parts of the country, snow. All of these different weather conditions pose their own challenges on the job, and learning to work safely and effectively in them is an important part of being successful in this profession. For those who must contend with snowstorms, there are some special things to think about.
“We go through a lot more protocols in the wintertime, especially when there are snowstorms,” says James Rehil, a climber with Alexander and Wilson Tree Care and Services in northern Michigan. “When we know there’s a big snowstorm coming, we let everyone on the crew know, so they can be prepared. We get all of our gear ready, make sure that everything is in tiptop shape.”
“It makes sense to be sure you have the supplies you need, like fuel. And make sure your saws and chippers are in working order,” advises Trumbull Barrett, owner of Barrett Tree Service East, servicing the Boston area. “You need to be sure that everything is up and running and ready, should you need to be dispatched on a storm-related call.”
And it’s important to factor in the reality that it takes a lot longer just to get crews out of the yard in the morning after a snowstorm, points out Robert Vedernack Jr., president of Arbor Care Solutions Tree Service in the Chicago area. “Unless your trucks are all kept inside, and I would say that not many tree care companies have enough square footage to put all of their equipment inside, you have to spend a lot of time just to get trucks cleaned off, running and out on the road,” he says.
Rehil says that Alexander and Wilson’s policy is not to work during actual snowstorm events, particularly if there’s wind involved. “If there’s an emergency situation, we’ll go out in a snowstorm, but if the weather is too bad, we will normally shut everything down, because it’s not safe — not only for the [workers] on the ground, but it’s not safe for a climber to be in a tree or to be running a bucket,” he emphasizes.
“We do occasionally get calls during a storm event, but it’s usually pretty tough to address something while the storm is active…. It can cause more risk than it’s worth to work on something during the storm,” says Barrett. “As the storm is dying off, we may go out and check out the situation, just to see what we might need. Then we can go back the next day to address it.”
Barrett says that if it’s cold enough, the snow that comes during a storm might be light and fluffy, producing little in the way of tree damage. “So, we usually don’t get too many calls from that. But if it’s a wetter, heavier snow, evergreen trees are sometimes breaking and branches coming out of trees,” he explains. Rarely do whole trees come down due to snow, unless there’s wind involved with the storm, Barrett notes.
Arbor Care Solutions Tree Service will also go out in a snowstorm only in the event of emergency. “Most of the time, if there’s a tree down on a house, we’re there within an hour,” says Vedernack. (In those cases, he advises that homeowners take photos documenting the situation before, during and after the work is done for insurance purposes.)
Vedernack says that the amount of damage left behind after a snowstorm often has to do with what the prior growing season was like. “This year, for example, we had a lot of rain at the beginning of the summer, so everything grew so much. This winter, there will probably be trees and branches everywhere after the snow hits,” he explains. But Vedernack adds that, generally, windstorms are more damaging than snowstorms, noting that he typically sees fewer instances of downed trees and utility wires after heavy snows than after strong winds.
From a business standpoint, he says that snowstorms do tend to be good for tree care companies. “If branches are breaking around the neighborhood, it gets people thinking about their trees, and homeowners get worried about their homes,” he says, noting that it prompts some to finally call about tree work that they had been meaning to have done over the summer but had put off. Even if there’s not a lot of damage, a storm gets people thinking ahead, says Vedernack.
Logging of the largest trees in the Sierra Nevada's national forests ended in the early 1990s after agreements were struck to protect species' habitat. But new research by ecologists shows that spotted owls, one of the iconic species logging restrictions were meant to protect, have continued to experience population declines in the forests.
Ice storms can wreak havoc on communities. Frozen limbs, dragged down by the weight of the ice, can snap off and fall on cars, homes, and power lines. But scientists aren't sure how ice storms affect long-term forest health. Researchers are changing that.
Trees in California communities are working overtime. From removing carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air, intercepting rainfall and increasing property values, California's 173.2 million city trees provide ecosystem services valued at $8.3 billion a year. However, according to a recent study, more benefits could be realized if the Golden State's urban forests didn't have the lowest canopy cover per capita in the nation.
A research expedition tracked endangered tigers through the Sumatran jungles for a year and found tigers are clinging to survival in low density populations. The study found that well-protected forests are disappearing and are increasingly fragmented: Of the habitat tigers rely on in Sumatra, 17 percent was deforested between 2000 to 2012 alone. Their findings have renewed fears about the possible extinction of the elusive predators.
New research solves mystery of missing methane source in the Amazon Rainforest.
Arborists possess many skills that make them valued parts of the communities in which they live and work. What better way to utilize those skills than for a good cause that involves helping people in need?
This is where wood banks come into play. Simply put, wood banks are programs that aim to help community members with life essentials by supplying firewood at little to no cost to those in need that rely on firewood as a heating source.
“Wood banks are similar to the idea of a food bank, but it’s for fuel wood for folks that are in need,” explained Matthias Taylor Nevins, a land conservation specialist with the Athol, Massachusetts-based Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, in an article from The Greenfield Recorder. “So, if [a] town had a wood bank that was open during the week, folks could go in and grab a little bit of wood to get them through a tough time or get them to their next shipment of oil or load of wood.”
There are over 65 wood bank programs in the U.S. in rural areas, cities and suburbs spanning 21 states. Many are in need of skilled arborists with knowledge of proper chain saw safety protocols and skills that would be useful in cutting, stacking and splitting wood. Wood banks are also always in need of volunteers and laborers (of any skill level) to stack and organize the wood, among other things. Arborists can even lend their tools and equipment to help in a wood bank effort.
Looking to get involved? Start at Woodbank.org, where you can find guidelines and basic information on the programs, including a map and directory of where they’re located across the country.
Scientists have quantified the relationship between natural sources of particles in the atmosphere and climate change. Their research shows that the cooling effect of natural atmospheric particles is greater during warmer years and could therefore slightly reduce the amount that temperatures rise as a result of climate change.
One of Africa's last remaining wilderness areas is in good shape and could potentially support 50,000 elephants and 1000 lions, a study has found. Niassa National Reserve is Mozambique's largest protected area and has large populations of threatened species, but it's one of the least biologically explored places on Earth.
A decline in the number of wood thrushes is probably due to deforestation in Central America, a new study has concluded.
Despite some forest loss, Mozambique's sprawling Niassa National Reserve has the potential to support tens of thousands of elephants and 1,000 lions according to a new land-use study.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Mostly found in the moist soil of river valleys ranging from southeastern South Dakota to Louisiana; central Texas; northeast along the western slopes of the Appalachians; and as far east as eastern Massachusetts. Isolated populations also occur in northwestern Florida.
WOOD VALUE: Honey locust wood is dense, hard, coarse-grained, strong, shock-resistant, takes a high polish and is durable in contact with soil. Is used locally for posts, pallets, crates, general construction, furniture, interior finish, turnery and firewood.
OTHER USES: Thornless varieties are commonly planted as an ornamental, particularly on dry sites. Pods are being fermented for ethanol production in studies to explore the feasibility of biomass fuels. Is also a source of pollen and nectar for honey.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Begins to flower when its leaves are nearly full grown, from around May 10 in the southern parts of its range to around June 25 in the northern parts of its range. The legumes ripen from September to October, usually falling after ripening but sometimes remaining on the tree through February.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
SOURCE: U.S. FOREST SERVICE (FS.FED.US), USDA
Research has shown human disturbance can have detrimental effects on great ape populations but now there is new evidence showing how selective logging impacts chimpanzees and gorilla populations differently.
If you work at a tree care company, you may find it a mystery as to why you feel a sense of loss when removing a tree. It’s something we rarely talk about in this trade, yet we know it’s there. Given that trees aren’t human and they don’t feel pain like we do, why should we feel any sense of remorse, even the most hardcore of us? People harvest all kinds of plants and for a multitude of good reasons, not the least being food and shelter. We’ve done so for a very long time. So how is harvesting an urban tree any different than harvesting wheat, corn or sugarcane? Countless trees perish due to natural causes. Many trees pose a literal risk to life, limb and property. Others pose a risk to habitat integrity. Frankly, some trees are just plain ugly. In the urban forest, someone needs to remove those trees. Someone also needs to perform that work in as professional and safe a manner as possible.
Personally, I take pride in doing just that.
We remove trees at West Michigan Tree Services and customers pay us to do so. We’ve removed many a dead or dying tree. Because of the emerald ash borer, we’ve removed tens of thousands of ash trees. We’ve also removed trees for new home construction, new developments, to widen roadways and for a multitude of civic improvement projects. There are lots of good reasons to remove trees.
On the other hand, we also remove trees for what many would feel are, at best, peculiar reasons — to allow more sunlight for turf, because clients are sick of cleaning up the leaves in the fall or to make room for a new tree.
There are people who care so much about trees that they’re willing to literally fight for them. We’ve had our fair share of confrontations. At a minimum, they’re awkward situations. At their extreme, the confrontations were at gunpoint. We’ve had to call the police on more than one occasion.
I sell lots of tree removals. As an arborist, I also sell several types of tree care services. I’ve grown a thick skin about selling the removals. To do my job, I felt I needed to.
Or did I?
This summer, I removed a large cottonwood in my yard. One stem was leaning toward the house, but mostly I removed the tree for convenience sake. The cottonwood drew copious amounts of water from my lawn. Cottonwoods grow four feet a year and the cost to remove it was growing yearly. But the primary reason I had it removed was due to the annual snowfall of seeds. I don’t miss the mess. But now that it’s gone, I feel a strange sense of loss. Its absence leaves a hole in the sky when I look outside.
It’s as if something important is missing.
It’s not just clients who feel that way, nor is it just me. Case in point: Tim, a foreman for one of our land-clearing crews, pulled me aside on a job I sold. He said he was having difficulty removing a large sugar maple. It wasn’t that it was a difficult removal — it was because the tree was magnificent. It was a 36-inch sugar maple in all of its glory. It was full, healthy, thriving and in full autumn color. Despite already felling 50 other trees on this lot, Tim was balking at dropping the maple.
I don’t know how many trees Tim has cut down over the course of his career, but I’m sure it’s at least in the five-figure range. Interestingly, he couldn’t bring himself to say that the maple was too beautiful to cut down. Instead, he tried to find a practical reason to convince me to leave it. He argued, “It’s close to the edge of the property. It shades the neighbor’s deck. The new house will be 100 feet away. It’s perfectly healthy.” Standing beside me, glancing sheepishly up at the maple, he asked, “Why do we need to remove this one?”
What Tim didn’t know about the job was that the grade change was so severe the tree wouldn’t survive it. I explained that to Tim, which would normally have satisfied him. This time, however, it didn’t. Pressing me further, he asked, “Why are they changing the grades over here? That seems odd.”
And he was absolutely right.
The change wasn’t necessary at all. The site was being leveled at the wishes of the builder who wanted to completely clear the lot and then regrade the site so he could have a blank canvas to work on. This particular home builder provides us with a lot of work, so I sold the job and wasn’t about to argue with him over his reasons.
Recognizing Tim’s concern, I realized I had dodged his question. I could have been more forthcoming and not omitted the reason for the grade changes, which also had seemed silly to me. So why did I dodge his question? More to the point, why should I feel guilty about it?
There are several pragmatic reasons I might have felt guilty. Trees provide tangible benefits — carbon dioxide reduction, erosion control, shade, wind screens and sound buffers. Trees provide wildlife habitat. They produce oxygen, dampen harmful ultraviolet light, build soils and increase property values.
Trees also provide several important aesthetic benefits — more difficult to quantify, but no less real. Studies have shown that the simple sound of the rustle of leaves reduces stress. The air smells better with trees. They make us feel more alive. They cause us to feel as if we’re a part of the natural world.
Trees are used by painters, photographers and poets to describe the human condition. They provide so many enriching benefits that pictures of trees are recommended to be placed on the walls of hospital rooms.
We know all of that.
I know all of that.
I use those very reasons to convince people to buy our tree care services — when I’m not selling removals.
As I’ve come to learn more about all the benefits trees provide, my position on removing them has shifted over time. This conversation with Tim occurred several years ago. I still sell many a tree removal. But lately, I’ve been asking my clients more questions about why they want to remove a tree. And if the reason they provide sounds shaky, I ask them to reconsider.
Given what I’ve learned, I feel I must answer for my actions to my grandchildren.
I don’t want to dodge their questions as I did with Tim. I want to be able to tell them openly, and with a clear conscience, why I did what I did.
It’s a new world that we live in. Yet, it’s an old issue. My forefathers cleared the state of Michigan of trees. By the turn of the century, very little was left of the forests. I remember wondering in school as a child how they could have been so foolish, so short-sighted. Couldn’t they see the siltation of the streams? Didn’t they know they destroyed a wildlife habitat? Did they really think the forests were endless?
It’s a difficult issue. One I don’t particularly like to face.
Yes, there’s profit in selling tree removals, but there’s also a loss. In some instances, the loss outweighs the gain.
Archaeologists have found scant evidence that people grew corn around the Grand Canyon 1,200 years ago. Instead, he said they used fire to prepare land for the cultivation of wild foods.
Archaeologists have found scant evidence that people grew corn around the Grand Canyon 1,200 years ago. Instead, he said they used fire to prepare land for the cultivation of wild foods.
The board of directors of the Tree Care Industry Association recently began work to find a successor for president Mark Garvin, who plans to retire early next year. He has served the association for more than two decades and as president since 2009.
“Mark has expertly piloted the association to significant growth and program expansion during his tenure, leading a talented management team in the delivery of strong and consistent value for TCIA members,” says Peter Sortwell, chairman of the TCIA board of directors. “The board will miss Mark’s leadership and is thrilled that he will assist in our transition.”
The timeline for the search was expected to take two to three months.
“It has been an honor to lead this association and this great industry alongside our dedicated TCIA team,” Garvin says. “Twenty-one years ago, when I came aboard the National Arborist Association, we were a much smaller organization with a much more limited reach. TCI EXPO was relatively new. There was no accreditation, CTSP safety certification, Voice for Trees political action committee, Arborist Safety Training Institute, workforce development initiative or regional outreach coordinators.
“Next year, TCIA will celebrate 80 years of advancing tree care businesses. As we work together to write the next chapter in our shared history, I am confident that the association and the industry will continue to grow.”
The new TCIA president and CEO will begin his or her tenure in approximately February or March.