Nation provides training for safe tree limb removal

By Ken Luchterhand

In an urban setting, trees can cause injury to property and humans when the dead limbs, and whole trees, come toppling down.
For that reason, Ho-Chunk Nation DNR Urban Forester Greg Blick thought it was important to provide a training session on preventive maintenance of the Nation’s trees.
The training was provided on Dec. 5 and 6 to five Nation DNR employees, one employee of HCN Housing and one employee of the Ho-Chunk campground and resort, according to Blick.
The instructor was Aaron Shauer, who has been a climbing arborist for almost 20 years and has a Masters in Forestry from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.  His company name is Trees 4 Life. 
“Aaron taught us advanced rigging techniques, which is the use of blocks, pulleys and various styles of ropes to remove and lower large limbs from trees,” Blick said. “In conjunction, he taught us limb walking techniques, which allows people to advance far out to limb ends without breaking them.  This allows us prune dead limbs and branches and tie them off for safe lowering.  He also taught us about six different styles of arborist ropes and what are the strengths, weaknesses and best uses of each.” 
Advanced rigging techniques will allow the workers to take down safely trees which are near buildings or other structures which are susceptible to damage.
For example, for the class the participants in the training took down a rotting pin oak tree in the Mission Headstart playground which was hanging over playground equipment and fencing.  In the past this would have had to be put out to contract and may have cost up to $2,000, Blick said.
“Now we will be able to do much of this work in-house, with most of the work done by tribal members,” he said. “We did about two hours inside each day.  We spent half the first day in a cold sleet and the second day in the cold.  It was our first dose of winter tree removal, but it won’t be our last.”
This year the Ho-Chunk Nation DNR removed more than 200 trees and pruned many for safety, both on trust land and for elders on private lands.
“This class will allow us to expand the types of trees we can take care of in our services to tribal members, both in tree removal and in pruning for safety purposes.  Other urban forestry activities such as tree inspections and inventory are intended to catch problem trees before they fail and allow for the best allocation of resources,” Blick said. “Next spring we plan on planting hundreds of trees to replace those which we have been removed.”