Getting on “TRAQ” to Sound Tree Management!
By: Nathan Schuettpelz, ISA Certified Arborist/Municipal Specialist WI-0887AM
There is a level of risk associated with the trees on your property. There, I said it.
Sometimes we, especially Arborists, lose ourselves enjoying the beauty and benefits that trees provide. Trees are good, they are beautiful, and they provide us with many tangible and intangible benefits. We need to recognize that in the presence of trees there is a risk to the people, the structures, and the use of the property. As tree owners, your duty is to ensure that the trees on your property do not become an unacceptable risk to their surrounding environments. As risk assessors, our duty is to communicate with you the risks involved with your trees, the targets impacted in the event of tree or tree part failure, and the likelihood and severity of such an event. We also must provide you with recommended management options that result in an acceptable level of risk. Enter the TRAQ process.
TRAQ, or Tree Risk Assessment Qualification, is an educational opportunity provided through the International Society of Arboriculture. During the course Arborists learn how to systematically and defensibly assess the risk level associated with trees. Wachtel Tree Science is proud to have two of our consulting arborists qualified in tree risk assessment.
So how does tree risk assessment apply to real world situations? Let us examine my property as an example. My wife and I recently purchased a house on the north side of Hartford, WI. Our front yard is adorned by a majestic Norway Maple, one of the largest I have ever seen. In the fall, it glows with brilliant amber and yellow-hued leaves. It is so large it can be viewed clearly from the other side of town. The problem is that the structure of the tree leaves something to be desired. Two very sizeable co-dominant stems split from the trunk just 8 feet above ground level. One stem leans over my house, the other over my neighbors. I would normally assess the tree to be of an unacceptable level of risk but a prior property owner recognized the problem and had support cables installed between the co-dominant stems. These cables help support the weight of each stem and the likelihood of their failure is very low, which is acceptable to my wife and I. We have kept the tree and enjoy the splendor it provides year round!