I spent the better part of last week sequestered in my office, virtually attending “Far Out Arboriculture”. That was the title for the annual conference of the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.
The idea being to open our thinking and horizons. My 13 pages of notes barely represent the wealth of knowledge and experience shared by the speakers, the camaraderie within the profession, and my own sense of being humbled by it all. What a wakeup call.
The conference was to be held among the redwoods of the North Coast, but of course, with COVID concerns and restrictions, it had to be virtual, adding a layer of complexity to the already challenging logistics. The chapter pulled it off beautifully.
Topics ranged from the philosophical keynote by Obi Kaufman: “The Mind of the Redwood Forest”, to the practical: “The Closest Call- Near Misses of 3 of the World’s Best Climbers.”
Here are a few highlights from my point of view:
— The Sequoia Park Zoo Walk: Scott Baker, of Tree Solutions Inc., speaking on tree houses, zipline courses and tree walks -there are 74 “canopy walkways” in forests around the world- told the story of the one just opened in Sequoia Park in the City of Eureka.
There is an old growth coastal redwood grove in a 70-acre park within the city limits. With the commitment of the Zoo board of directors and extensive professional collaboration, a walkway has been installed high in the redwood canopy. Scott noted that a generous donor agreed to fund the project on the condition that it had to be 100 feet above ground. The project required a major assessment of the trees, a year of design work, cautious installation without heavy equipment in the root zones, and state of the art anchoring systems. The walk is partly rigid, ADA accessible and partly “bouncy” catenary (suspension bridges). Everything is anchored into the tree trunks with specialized TABS – Tree Attachment Bolts. Scott related how, on the recent opening day, he could not help but tear up seeing everyone absolutely all smiles as they finished the walk. I am definitely going ASAP.