20 Mar 2017 | Executive Director's Outlook: Spring 2017 - Cheers to trees and people

The Western Chapter is off to a quick start this year. Activities, events, educational offerings, and testing for certification and qualification are well underway. It seems like just yesterday we were grumbling about the drought, but now the rainfall has been above normal. It’s been a wet year so far in California. The hills around me are green and lush — something I haven’t seen in quite a while. The nearby lake is at capacity and the local mountains are covered in snow.

Along with this welcome change in the weather, comes the challenge for many municipalities to begin the process of restoring their urban and community forests that have suffered greatly during the long-term drought. Southern California and the Central Valley have been severely affected. Many trees have died or declined significantly. Dead trees will need to be replaced and many others will need care, particularly pruning to eliminate dead branches. An alarming number of the trees have failed during the winter storms. My family’s tree care company has been doing a lot of emergency work over the winter, and I’m sure this is the case for most tree-care companies. Whether the work is clearing a tree from a yard, street or powerline, removing a hazardous tree, assessing a tree’s risk potential, or appraising the damage caused by a fallen tree, we’ve all been quite busy doing the work we do best! Now, more than ever, it’s time to show the general public what professional arboriculture is all about. The importance of hiring a licensed contractor who is ISA Certified, is even greater during the storm season.

"We have superheroes right here amongst us…with amazing powers…who are these superheroes? They are the Trees!" Andy Lipkis, Founder, TreePeople (From a TED Talk) Andy will be a Keynote Speaker, at the WCISA Annual Conference this May.

I encourage arborists working on storm damaged trees to document the failures they see for the California Tree Failure Report Program. The best way to learn why trees fail and how to lessen our exposure to tree risk, is by studying actual failures in the landscape. Larry Costello and Katherine Jones have collected data on tree failures for decades that has been used to create species profiles for the most common species. These profiles can be downloaded from The Britton Fund, Inc. website www.thebrittonfund.org. Reporting tree failures is important because it provides useful information when assessing risk for a particular species. We need to know which species are prone to failure and which ones are not, and where a species is most likely to fail —the root, the trunk, or the limbs. We also need to know what defects, such as wood decay or included bark, are likely to contribute to failure. The current system for reporting tree failures is bit time-consuming, but the good news is the Britton Fund, Inc. board of directors has been looking at ways to automate the system with a mobile app. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am excited to have Katherine Naegele join the Britton Fund board as a director this year. As a Bay Area arborist, she has a keen interest in automating data gathering and has agreed to chair the Education Committee. I look forward to seeing what she develops. However, in the meantime, I encourage folks to go the ‘old-school’ route and fill out the forms. The form can be downloaded from the Tree Failure site at  http://ucanr.edu/sites/treefail or email Katherine Jones, the program coordinator at treefail@mac.com.

Speaking of the Britton Fund, the board recently honored Dr. James Downer for his considerable accomplishments and service to the Chapter. They also appointed him to the board—no rest for the weary. Dr. Downer has been a member of the Research Committee (along with Dr. Fred Roth, Carl Mellinger, and Luana Vargas) under the direction of Elizabeth (Libby) Davison for the past few years. After serving several terms on the board, Libby stepped down at the end of her term in December. “Dr. D” rose to the occasion and joined the board in January of this year.  Jim’s background as a scientist and researcher will bring a new point of view to the Fund’s work. It’s an exciting time —and a great time to consider supporting the Britton Fund programs and projects through its many fundraising outlets. You can participate in the Britton Fund ride (or support the event through a donation to a rider or several riders) or take part in the spring Work Day weekend at Camp Whitsitt in Kern County April 7th-9th 2017. Not ready for the great outdoors? How about a little online shopping with The Britton Fund as your Amazon Smile charity? Or perhaps you can donate to the silent auction during the Annual Conference in May. There are opportunities for everyone to get in on the action – just visit www.thebrittonfund.org for details and information.

Libby got some amazing research projects started before handing-off the baton to Jim. Currently, there are two projects already underway. In Arizona, Dr. Ursula Schuch and Dr. Judith Brown are working on the “Identification of the Causal Agent of Witches Broom on Blue Palo Verde.” And in California, Dr. Igor Lacan is studying “Connecting Tree Failure with Wood Decay Fungal Assay.”  Two additional projects were launched this new year. The first involves Zhiquiang Cheng, Assistant Extension Specialist, Dept. Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii, Manoa, working on “Management of New Invasive Pests of Ficus trees in Hawaii’s urban landscapes”, and the second project: “Tree Care for Birds and Other Wildlife” is a collaborative effort involving California ReLeaf, West Coast Arborists, and HortScience Inc., here in California. We are really excited about the work that our research foundation has funded. John Britton would be proud of the work being done in his honor.

Two of the Britton Fund projects will be featured during the Western Chapter’s 83rd Annual Conference in San Diego this May as part of the educational program during “Paradise Found: Plans, Partners, Progress”. On Wednesday, May 10th, Igor Lacan will be presenting “Connecting Wood Decay Fungi with Tree Failure”, and on Thursday morning, Dr. McPherson, will present “Planting Paradise: New Research and Tools to Maximize Future Benefits from Trees” which will include findings from their research partially funded by The Britton Fund. Two fantastic opportunities to see your donations at work.

The annual conference is shaping up to be a “ticket to paradise” with great speakers, an impressive program, a sold out trade show, beautiful surroundings and top-notch entertainment. This event is the work of the  inspired and spirited local committee. We will be featuring many student events as well as a spouses’ program that will include daily yoga on the “island” and many local treats. Simply paradise! Our conference website is in full production at www.wcisaconnect.com  - be sure to visit it for speaker overview and other important details.

The event calendar is already chock full of great events. Our tree-climbing championship returns to Los Angeles on Father’s Day weekend with a pre-competition workshop featuring Jared Abrojena – definitely one you don’t want to miss. Mark your calendar for June 16-18 at Lincoln Park (the oldest park in the city). If you want to volunteer during the event, please visit www.westernchaptertcc.com for the forms and information.

All of us at Epicenter Management are looking forward to the conference. Getting out and meeting the membership is definitely a highlight of our work. Look for us onsite or online. We are ready to assist you in your professional growth.

Cheers to trees!

Rose Epperson



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