Arborists from across the state attend annual seminar

Tree professionals spend two days in Long Neck at the 4th Annual Delaware Arborist and Tree Care Seminar
March 13, 2014
Joe Shoup of Tunnell Companies LP uses a chainsaw to cut a felled tree into more manageable pieces. The Delaware Forest Service hosted the 4th Annual Delaware Arborist & Tree Care Seminar March 4 and 5 at Baywood Greens in Long Neck. BY CHRIS FLOOD

Arborists and tree professionals from across Delaware were in the Cape Region learning ways to improve on their craft during the 4th Annual Delaware Arborist and Tree Care Seminar.

Kyle Hoyd, Urban Forestry coordinator for the Delaware Forest Service, said the main goal of the program is to bring education to the arborists of Delaware. The seminar was held over two days, March 4 and 5, at Baywood Greens in Long Neck.

“It helps our tree professionals learn new techniques and safer methods,” Hoyd said.

Considering the relative newness of the seminar, Hoyd is pleased with the attendance numbers. He said attendance has quadrupled in four years, with 50 arborists in year one and close to 200 this year.

He said if interest continues to grow, the seminar has the potential to rival the Shade Tree Symposium in Lancaster, Pa., which has been taking place for 49 years and draws close to 500 arborists and tree professionals.

Mark Chisholm of New Jersey was the featured speaker at the event. He's an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist, and a tree-climbing expert. He has won the International Society of Arboriculture New Jersey Chapter Tree Climbing Championship 19 years in a row and won the ISA International Tree Climbing Championship in 1997, 2001 and 2010. He holds the world record in the 50-foot secured footlock climbing event, with a time of 13.8 seconds.

Chisholm was there to discuss advanced rigging techniques to fell a tree, but during a presentation that lasted more than an hour, he went over much more.

The single most important piece of advice he gave was to be safe. Chisholm's dad, Steve, was an arborist and now works with the Occupational Safety & Environmental Association to go over worksites when fatalities happen.

“Every one, 100 percent, happened because multiple bad decisions were made,” he said. “Our industry isn't as dangerous at it seems to be, but their focus wasn't there. They got hurt doing a stupid task that they'd done 500 times before, and their focus wasn't there.”

Chisholm is also a big believer in felling a tree as soon as it can be done.

“You're not there to prune it. You're there to get it to the ground safely,” he said, adding to not worry about the lawn unless the job requires it. “Show the lawn no mercy. Don't stay up in a tree any longer than necessary when spending five minutes fixing a divot is the alternative.”

Sussex County-based Sussex Tree Inc. sent a table full of employees to the seminar. The crew said they liked coming to the seminar because it affirms the techniques they use and gives them an opportunity to learn.

“We're always picking up something new,” said Mike Bunnell, a crew foreman who has been with the company for 18 years.

Tree climber Holly Nelson, the 2006 Mid-Atlantic women's tree climbing champion, has been in the business for 10 years, the last three with Sussex Tree.

“I like coming to the show to learn more about the industry, so I can better myself,” she said. “It helps bring along the knowledge we already have.”