Featured Tree
East Sequim Bay Pacific madrona
Arbutus menziesii
Height: 78 ft
DBH (diameter at breast height): 43 in

The third in our series of holiday tree portraits, this Pacific madrona stands out as one of the more photogenic trees we've worked on to date. It sits atop the bluffs overlooking East Sequim Bay, framing the homeowner's waterfront landscape. Last winter we pruned the canopy to enhance the client's view and the general aesthetic of the tree. This broadleaved evergreen, native to the Pacific Northwest Coast, Ranges from southern British Columbia to southern California thriving in marine environments. Its peeling, red, paper-thin bark and often contorted limb structure set it apart from the other trees that chance this harsh environment.

The holiday tree portrait has become a winter tradition at Sitkum Tree Service. It started as the concept behind the company's annual holiday card; an opportunity for us to show our gratitude to clients and those who have supported us along the way. It's a way for us to share the beauty of the trees we are so fortunate to climb and care for. Pam Russell of Russell-Works Studio Art & Photographic Design
, our graphic designer and go-to photographer, has guided us through each photo project. We are indebted to her keen eye and editing mastery.
Safety Summit 2012 Port Gamble

This October we were asked to volunteer at the first safety summit on the North Olympic Peninsula. Last year a colleague, Aaron Waag, from Kitsap County passed away in a crane removal incident. His friends and family initiated a program to promote safety training in the tree care industry. Together with peers we affirmed safety practices from the proper use of personal protective equipment to ariel rescue. It was a privilege to share our knowledge of safe tree work practices and learn from fellow arborists in the area. We recognize the correlation between the safety of people, trees and the built environment. We choose this line of work because we believe we can improve this relationship.

ISA Tree Climbing Championship

Tree work is an athletic occupation. Each year the best climbers in the Northwest gather to compete in challenges that mirror our everyday work. Conor and Mick were recruited to judge this year's aerial rescue and work climb events at the 2012 ISA Tree Climbing Championship. We worked side-by-side with veterans Dave Stice of WesSpur Tree Equipment and Damien Carre of Oregon Tree Care evaluating the best climbers in our region. Suffice it to say our competitive appetites were piqued and we plan on entering the competition next year.

Sitkum Newsletter Winter 2013
Dear friends,

It's been a productive winter for Sitkum Tree Service--our busiest yet. We've been making the best of the short days and welcome the approaching spring and a turn toward increasing daylight. As we near our third anniversary as a company we have begun to reflect on what we've accomplished and how we will grow as tree care professionals. Continuing education is at the foundation of a successful tree care business and we are proud to share with you the steps we are taking in our commitment to learning. We appreciate your continued interest in our endeavors and wish you all the best as 2013 unfolds.

The Sitkum Team
Tree Risk Assessor Certification

Conor examining an Alder in West Seattle

In mid January Conor passed the ISA Tree Risk Assessor Certification course. He traveled up to Vancouver BC to attend a two day class. The course included both lectures and field study culminating in a three hour exam. Training focused on visually assessing characteristics that trees exhibit in their roots, bark, branches and crown. These features are subtle but can be very telling of structural, mechanical or biological problems the tree may suffer.
As every tree is different, evaluating a tree's risk with consistency is complicated. The course presented a set of categories that standardize the evaluation process to produce a risk rating based on size of part, target it could damage and condition of the tree. This type of assessment results in information that benefits everyone who lives near trees. Situations often involve a specimen that is exceedingly valuable but poses a risk to the built environment. Frequently structures are built around damaged trees or construction itself compromises them. In most cases these signs may not become apparent for years. We look forward to putting this training into practice to enhance safety and provide you with more information about your trees.

Seasonal Treatment Recommendation: Fruit Tree Rehabilitation

Example of a poorly pruned fruit tree

In our experience working with fruit trees we've noticed they tend to suffer, more than other species, from improper pruning treatments. One of the most common mistakes we see inflicted on fruit trees is over-pruning in a single treatment. Most ornamental and fruit producing trees are only able to withstand small annual reductions in the range of ten to thirty percent of live canopy removal depending on the species. Excessive limb reduction and canopy removal decreases the tree's resources and increases its susceptibility to pathogens, disease and risk of failure. Furthermore, it results in abundant growth of unsightly water sprouts. 

Example of well pruned apple trees
Many trees that have been improperly pruned can be rehabilitated over the course of many treatments. If done right this lengthy rehabilitation can be avoided. We are skilled in correcting improper pruning treatments. In most circumstances we can promote favorable health and structural objectives that will benefit your tree in the long term. When we assess trees for treatment we consider soils, disease, history, nursery stock, surrounding environment, practical objectives and a variety of other factors before taking action. The health and preservation of your trees is a priority for us. We pride ourselves in enabling a tree to enhance its surrounding environment.

Featured Project: Coastal Live Oak Removal

The project as we met it in a grid of power lines and homes

This removal presented us with one of the most formidable challenges we've ever tackled; a massive, ailing Coastal Live Oak imprisoned by homes and power lines. We employed nearly every rigging tactic we know to take this tree down. Most of the tops were lowered with the aid of a double block system that allowed us to catch and lower them into a small drop zone. The property layout in this neighborhood of Port Angeles prohibited crane removal so all of the work was done manually from within the tree. At seventy-eight pounds per cubic foot, the three of us found ourselves problem solving our way through the difficulties of working with such heavy wood.

Conor and Mick making progress on the first day of the removal

We rotated climbing and rigging tie-ins strategically as we made progress on the removal. Devising an effective order of operations is essential to the success of a technical removal. In a situation like this the only rigging and climbing anchors that are available exist in the tree and shrink as it comes down. Eliminating the wrong link can prohibit the work from continuing. Careful planning is essential.

Day two of precise rigging
As the canopy disappeared we switched rigging methods and negative blocked the last of the big wood into the homeowner's yard. He plans to use the big wood for building projects and we were happy to facilitate the constructive re-use of this unique tree.

Conor completing the final cuts

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