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Pacific Madrona Slab Coffee Table

One of our most difficult, large-tree removals yielded a number of beautiful Madrona slabs. After two weeks of complex rigging, milling and years of kiln drying Conor sanded and oil-finished the piece pictured above which now serves as his living room coffee table. We do our best to re-purpose wood from removals and have accumulated a small inventory of unique slabs and boards for furniture projects. We recognize the value in recycling the wood that results from removal jobs. When possible we try to find a home for lumber, slabs, firewood and chips as they are all important assets that result from our work. Please contact us if you have an interest in purchasing these salvaged wood products. We currently have a limited stock of Madrona, Black Locust, American Elm, Douglas-Fir, Big-leaf Maple and Giant Sequoia in our inventory.

Featured Tree: Pacific Yew

Taxus brevifolia
Height: up to 60 ft.
DBH (diameter at breast height): up to 3 ft.

The paciffic Yew, native to the northwest, ranges from the southern tip of Alaska to northern California and inward to the western Rocky Mountains. A relatively small, bushy tree, it thrives in the shady understory beneath Western Hemlock, Douglas-Fir and Grand Fir. Though often appearing unkempt in the wild they--and their close relative the English Yew--make excellent ornamental trees with proper pruning and care. The small stature of the Pacific Yew lends itself to a variety of important uses in the urban landscape. It's an excellent Northwest conifer to plant in a site that won't support it's larger relatives. Their flat needles and bright red fruit set them apart from other coniferous evergreens native to this region. Native Americans used yew wood to make paddles, bows, harpoons, clubs and wedges for splitting wood. Furthermore, Taxol found in the bark of Pacific Yew, has benefited scientists in creating cancer-fighting medications.

Arborists and Wildland Fire

It's striking how many arborists come from a wildland fire fighting background. The cross over is significant--high intensity work requiring constant attention to detail and good communication. Many of these safety and communication practices transfer daily to our work regime. Conor still uses the skills he learned from his experience as a sawyer on the Modoc Hotshot Crew. In the photo above Conor is putting the back-cut into an old growth Douglas-fir that is burning from the inside out to prevent the tree from falling across the fire line. We frequently meet colleagues that have had many years experience in the fire world. Usually our conversations with them are fun. We relive old memories from the fire line and share experiences working in the backcountry. The tragedy this summer in Arizona, however, has caused us to reflect deeply. We would like to honor the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that perished on the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30th. They set an example of strong work and our hearts go out to their loved ones.

Sitkum Newsletter Summer 2013

Dear Friends,

The marine layer has been rolling through Port Angeles as of late, ever denser. Rain Gear is beginning to factor into our work attire once again. Leaves displayed autumn colors early this year and summer set in drier than most. Now the rain seems a welcome end to the wildfires that spread up and down the west coast this season. As fire seasons differ from year to year, so do individual trees in their reactions to myriad factors. The trees in our region adjust subtly and uniquely in response to our finicky climate. As stewards of our great trees we pride ourselves in noting these subtleties and adjusting our treatments and care as a reflection of these observations.

This fall Tad Smith, a member of our team for the last two years, will be moving on to teach English composition at Central Washington University. His contributions to the company have been invaluable and it will be hard to see him leave. We strive to maintain a strong and intellectually diverse team. Tad has certainly been a pillar in defining our identity as tree professionals.

The Sitkum Team

Seasonal Treatment Recommendation: Limb Tip Reductions

Conor tipping back limbs on a heritage Elm in Port Angeles

Trees in the built environment grow and react to weather events differently than those that mature in natural conditions. Adjustments to open sites and built features often leave trees more vulnerable to the elements. Clients frequently ask us how they can reduce weather related hazards while maintaining the aesthetic beauty of their residential trees. Most specimen--large or small, deciduous or evergreen--can benefit from a limb tip reduction treatment. This type of treatment consists of mostly exterior pruning cuts that streamline the shape of the tree to shed snow and optimize it to bear the force of high winds. Not to be confused with wind-sailing--a scientifically invalid treatment in which many limbs are removed at random from the trunk of the tree--limb tip reductions result in healthy, structurally sound trees. Small pruning cuts heal much faster and are less succeptible to rot than large pruning cuts made next to the trunk.

Conor extending a pole-saw to reduce a limb tip
Trees that have been topped or otherwise mistreated can also benefit from limb tip reduction treatments. Restorative canopy work--most often requiring several years of pruning--can drastically improve the form of a damaged tree. In this application of the treatment strong branch connections are promoted. We manipulate the canopy primarily from the exterior, enhancing the tree's ability to deal with natural rigors. Careful pruning of the external canopy discourages unfavorable reactions to prior mistreatments and improves the appearance of the tree.

Sitkum Alum: Tad Smith

Tad cabling a Douglas-Fir with three large tops
As mentioned above Tad has helped define the work ethic and identity of Sitkum Tree Service. His background in education and forestry have shaped the way we communicate and problem solve in the field. Tad's impeccable attention to detail has helped us set a standard of quality assurance--a base from which we will continue to grow. Perhaps, since he will be returning to academics, we should call him arborist emeritus as we plan to call on him from time to time despite his move to Ellensburg. We're going to miss his even keeled demeanor and steadfast work ethic.

Tree Planting Tips

Tad and Conor planting a Japanese Maple near Sequim, WA

Though it may seem obvious, proper tree placement and planting are the first steps in responsible tree management. Far too often we receive calls to remove trees that were planted in the wrong place or under the wrong conditions. When planting a tree it is important to consider the species, site and management plan for the future. Trees can be pruned and environments adjusted to suit well-planned objectives but it is essential to outline those objectives before planting in order to avoid problems down the road. We have developed proven methods for tree planting, from small ornamentals to large installations. We offer tree planting consultion as well as site preparation and installation.

Featured Project: Owl Box Installation

Conor installing an owl box in a small Douglas-Fir
Earlier this month we installed our first owl box for a seasoned ornithologist on his twenty acre timber stand between Port Angeles and Sequim. Owl boxes provide nesting sites for species that nest in pre-existing cavities. Resembling large bird houses, they are typically lined with small twigs and conifer needles and function best in sparsely limbed trees. This particular box was designed to accommodate smaller owl species native to the area: Screech, Pygmy, and Saw Whet. Forested environments devoid of snags with significant cavities can benefit from artificial habitat enhancement. For those wishing to manipulate their trees to accommodate various wildlife species we offer a number of solutions including: habitat snags, stand diversification and artificial habitat installation to name a few. Trees and wildlife share a complex symbiotic relationship. 

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