President's Perspective - Winter 2021

By Doug Wildman on Friday, December 31, 2021

President’s Prospective -  Winter 2021

Arborists are essential to the livability, health, and beauty of our towns and cities. WCISA is here to support our critical work through educational opportunities and by providing a space for us tree people to connect. You can look forward to an exceptional conference that will be in person this year. As you can see from the Western Arborist cover we have been working hard creating a conference program for 2022 that has something for everyone’s interest. This will be our first in-person conference since 2019 when some of us were able to attend in Waikiki, Hawai'i.

We are excited to bring the 2022 conference to the San Francisco Bay Area - my neck of the woods! The speakers and topics will highlight many aspects of arboriculture including climbing, consulting, and municipal, utility, and commercial applications. Just as the TRAQ certifications are in person and following CDC and local guidelines, our conference will similarly have COVID-related protocols.

The hotel that we’ve chosen has been recently remodeled and sits amidst the bustling downtown Oakland 12th Street City Center BART Station with restaurants, specialty shops, and watering holes. It’s just a ten-minute walk to Jack London Square and the waterfront. If you are flying in for the conference (SFO or OAK), consider not renting a car as the public transportation and other ride services are environmentally and financially your better options.

Our conference will highlight some large infrastructure projects, where city policies and constituencies attempt to have public processes and forums to provide feedback for the best possible outcomes. In large urban projects, space is at a premium and there will always be competition for space between trees and other infrastructure. For tree health, we should protect and provide adequate space for root zones and canopies, as well as select the most appropriate tree species. As an arborist and landscape architect, I understand the need to push for adequate space for trees in our streets and sidewalks during the planning process.

Our urban centers continue to reinvent themselves. During the conference we will review Salesforce Park in San Francisco, a unique, 5.4 acre, on-structure park two floors above street level. Looking at the soils, irrigation, drainage systems, and plant material selection will give us a sense of this huge and expensive endeavor. This will paint a clearer picture of the challenges of adding new open space to an urban city center that we saw with last year’s virtual tour. If you attended ISA’s December 2021 Conference session “Growing and Anchoring Trees on Elevated Structures,” you will have a better idea of some of the complexities to be shared in the Salesforce Park educational session.

Our work with trees is critical to our cities and towns. We all know the importance trees have in providing human scale along major iconic boulevards like Broadway in Oakland and Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. It is something we think about when we experience a city. Trees also give residents and visitors a sense of place-making and orient them along their route. Clearly these major corridors must address the functionality of travel and support endless amounts of utilities above and below ground. The Bus Rapid Transit lanes that were added to Van Ness Avenue completely altered both the roadway and the sidewalk experience, adding trees and landscapes, specialty paving, lighting, and seating. By the time our conference is under way, most of Van Ness will be complete and we will hear about the planning, design, and construction challenges faced by city and state agencies to complete such a large redesign and tree planting project.

Our Conference Program Committee has been resourceful connecting us with the UC Berkeley grounds manager and a former campus landscape architect to coordinate a climbing experience and tree tour on the historic campus. The campus has a variety of spaces defined by trees, interesting architecture, Strawberry Creek, and vistas of the Bay Area. We invite you to experience this gem as one of the tours we are offering. Another tour will be to Tilden Park up in the East Bay Hills to review the extensive tree loss from the acacia and eucalyptus blight. We will also learn what is being done to mitigate the loss and manage the risk of fuel loads.

Much appreciation goes out to our 2022 Conference Committee, which has been working hard to pull this creative event together and special thanks to our Conference Chair Gordon Matassa and co-Chair Sara Davis for their time and commitment.

Happy Holidays to all of you and I look forward to sharing time and space with you soon!



Doug Wildman