Tree Forum Well Attended at Walt Whitman

Tree Forum Well Attended at Walt Whitman

Approximately 190 participants attended the Fairfax Community Tree Forum II that was held at Walt Whitman Middle School last week. It was facilitated by Adria C. Bordas, unit coordinator and horticulture extension agent for Fairfax County Extension. She said that the meeting was set up in response to requests by citizens who couldn't attend the meeting that was held in Fairfax last October. Especially after all the storms in the area, many residents wanted to know how to determine if their older trees were healthy. Members of various homeowners' associations also wanted to know what rights they had as property owners.

"A few of the citizens had been to the original forum, and thought it would be nice to have one here. They asked [Supervisor] Gerry Hyland to set this up, and I did," said Bordas.

ON THE PROGRAM was Steward Bunn, ISA certified arborist, Bartlett Tree Experts, who discussed why trees are killing themselves in the dark. He also talked about how to assess when a tree is hazardous and needs to be removed.

The concept of trees "killing themselves in the dark" means that most of the problems with trees stem from things that happen underground to the root system. So while people don't see the problems occurring, they are literally dying overnight because of these hidden problems. The key is to identify and treat them as early as possible.

Keith Cline, section chief for the urban forestry section of the county's urban forestry division (UFD), discussed the role of the UFD in managing the county's urban forest. After a short break, Phil Spark and other representatives from Virginia Dominion Power, addressed street tree pruning and talked about the conflicts between trees and underground/overhead utility lines.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland and Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman, helped sponsor the forum; they were both at budget hearings the night of the forum. Eleanor Quigley, tree commissioner from the Mt. Vernon District, spoke on their behalf.

Bordas said, "I had [people who attended the forum complete] an evaluation survey and 97 percent of those who responded to the evaluation said that they now feel as if they have the resources to make better decisions about their trees.

"Ninety-eight percent of the participants who responded to the evaluation said that they feel the information was very valuable and useful in future tree care activities. Overall, there were great responses from the residents. They were happy to have the Virginia Dominion Power company representatives available to answer their questions. It was great to see the interaction be a positive, non-confrontational experience."

Bordas said that there was talk of having another forum in the fall in the Hunter Mill/Dranesville/North County area.