14 Jun 2016 | President's Perspective, Spring 2016

President’s Perspective: Spring 2016

In my ‘neck of the woods’, we’re experiencing unusually warm weather. Temperatures have been in the 90s in some parts of  Southern California, signaling an early spring. This, in combination with cooler than normal temperatures in January, has resulted in a showy display of flowers in trees, such as Pyrus kawakamii and Magnolia soulangeana.

But weren’t we supposed to get more rain? I know <st1:place w:st="on">Northern California has received “normal” rainfall and that the Sierra’s have a decent snow pack this spring. But it has, of late, been unusually warm there as well. The early rainfall, has certainly helped fill lakes and reservoirs, at least in <st1:state w:st="on">California; <st1:state w:st="on">Hawaii, <st1:state w:st="on">Nevada, and <st1:state w:st="on">Arizona may be a different story. I’m not sure what happened to El Niño. So far, it has failed to live up to expectations. El Niño is quickly becoming El No, no!

Many regions across the <st1:country-region w:st="on">United States</st1:country-region> seem to be having abnormal weather: too much rain here, not enough there, unusually cold in one area, or abnormally warm in another. Just, what the heck is going on? From <st1:state w:st="on">Arizona, to <st1:state w:st="on">Nevada, to <st1:state w:st="on">California, and <st1:state w:st="on">Hawaii, we all know that year-to-year variations in climate can affect tree health. I recently spent several days in <st1:state w:st="on">Oregon purchasing trees during record rainfall there. While walking down rows of trees, not paying much attention to where I was walking, I found myself waist deep in a water-filled tree planting pit. It dawned on me at that point, that the <st1:place w:st="on">Pacific Northwest had way too much water, and I wished we could divert some of it to the water–strapped Southwest.

When you think about it, trees are quite resilient and can, for the most part, tolerate a wide range of environmental fluctuation, as long as they’re in the right place and are being properly managed. Easy, right? Well, no! That’s why arboriculture has developed into such an important profession. It’s also why we, as arborists, have jobs. Many of us work with planners, developers, landscape architects, and landscape professionals to provide advice or services regarding tree selection, planting and maintenance of trees and other landscape plants. The long term success of projects that we work on or consult for is largely dependent on how adaptable or appropriate the plant material is to the local environmental conditions. Insect and disease resistance is becoming a very important consideration these days.

For example, the relatively new and very invasive Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB)/Fusarium dieback complex in Southern California is continuing to spread, and is killing a wide variety of trees. At least 38 tree species are known hosts, making this ambrosia beetle/fungus complex a major consideration when selecting trees for <st1:place w:st="on">Southern California. Dr. Akif Eskalen, Dr. John Kabashima, and several others with the UC Cooperative Extension have been working to inform arborists and other landscape professionals about this problem and what can be done to minimize spread. It is also incumbent on arborists to share this information with others in the tree and landscape industry, as well as their clients.

I recently found signs of PSHB, to my chagrin, on a large Platanus racemosa tree in front of my home. I somehow felt negligent for not being able to have prevented it, or not being able to do anything to combat the problem. After I shed a few tears, I reminded myself that it’s OK, that I don’t have all the answers or solutions to every tree problem. The important part is that I know where to get the latest science-based information. According to researchers, there may be some options to manage this destructive complex.

For me, the opportunity to network with other arborists, University researchers, and professionals throughout the chapter is, perhaps, the most valuable benefit of membership in WCISA. I commonly talk with presenters following a regional meeting or conference to ask questions or gain insights. They’ve always been open and willing to share their expertise. I’ve found that getting to know other professionals, particularly at regional meetings and conferences, has led to a number of mutually beneficial business relationships and some friendships as well.

Volunteering with the Chapter has allowed me to meet a wide range of specialists throughout the tree care industry. On our recent membership survey, we found that there is significant interest among the membership to get involved in chapter activities. Epicenter Management, our Board, and committee chairs are currently working on welcoming these new volunteers into the Chapter.

Speaking of volunteering, several Western Chapter members recently traveled to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Guadalajara, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region> to help the Mexican Arborist Association (Asociación Mexicana de Arboricultur) put on their first ISA Tree Climbing Championship. The event was followed by their first Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist exam. Humberto Mojica, Javier Quiroz, Martin Morales, Miguel Morales, and Felipe Bribiescas represented the Western Chapter at the events.

Humberto led the ‘Evaluator’ training, so the Mexican Arborist Association could conduct future exams certifying their own professionals. I couldn’t be prouder of Humberto and the others for helping the up-and-coming ISA affiliate grow its organization so they can support their arboriculture professionals.

We recently welcomed Tim Tyson, Chief Urban Forester for <st1:city w:st="on">Los Angeles, as the new Municipal Arborist Committee Chair. He’s excited to be leading the committee, which has been relatively inactive. The committee’s input will help the Chapter address the needs of municipal arborists.

Dr. Julia Bartens, Women in Arboriculture Chair, along with her committee, has been busy planning WCISA’s first Women’s Climbing Skills Workshop in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Applegate, <st1:state w:st="on">CA, April 15-17th. This event is a great way for someone looking to network with other professional women, improve climbing skills, and have fun. See page 44 for further information. Details regarding the event are also posted on the WCISA website: www.wcisa.net.

Last, but certainly not least, WCISA’s annual meeting is a couple of months away, and I couldn’t be more excited to tell you about it. The conference: Magic in our Urban Forests will be held at the Disneyland Hotel in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Anaheim <st1:state w:st="on">California May 2nd - 5th, which just so happens to be my home base.

Program Chair Nicholas Crawford and the Epicenter Management Team are hard at work fine-tuning the events. The menus look good, the program is shaping up ? and will appeal to the diverse interests within the chapter, and, of course, there is the wonderful setting nearby ?the Disneyland Resort.

Our keynote speaker is Paul Johnson from Texas A&M Forest Service; he also serves on the ISA Board of Directors. I’ve heard him speak in the past, and found him to be very inspirational, and his message at our conference is sure to be of great interest. You can check out the program on at wcisaconnect.com to see all the other great presentations planned, as well as check out some of the tour options. The Exceptional Trees of Anaheim Tour is sure to be amazing, as we journey into the ‘Lost World’ to see how a jungle can exist nestled in the <st1:city w:st="on">Anaheim hills.

My team at <st1:place w:st="on">Disneyland and I are working on the two Disney ‘behind the scenes’ tours being offered before the park opens on May 4th and 5th. The <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Disneyland <st1:placetype w:st="on">Park tour: 60 Years of an Urban Forest will showcase a bit of history of the original park, and where it is headed over the next 60 years.

The Disney’s California Adventure tour: The Next Generation Urban Forest will share landscape design and construction methods using innovative solutions for trees and infrastructure. Successes and lessons learned will be the focus.

If you are a leader in your company, I hope you will consider providing an opportunity for your employees to attend the conference, even if it is only for one-day. They would surely benefit from one of the many break-out sessions available, as well as attending the Trade Show featuring the latest in technology, safety equipment, and tools of the trade, as well as books, services, etc.

We have several opportunities for students hoping to attend. We will be offering three scholarships to attend the conference. Check the website for more details. Also, if you are a full-time student and volunteer to work at the conference you will receive a 50% discount off of the student rate.

We know that not everyone can afford to attend the conference or take time away from work and other obligations. But we sure hope to see a lot of you there and at upcoming regional meetings close to you. The more we hear from members regarding member services, education and training opportunities, novel ideas, general comments, etc., the better we can serve you and advance our profession. You can do this by responding to member surveys, phoning or sending us emails or submitting articles or letters for the Western Arborist.

Rhonda Wood






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