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Northern Exposure: TRAQ at -10oF

John Ball, BCMA
Professor of Forestry, Extension Forestry Specialist
Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science Department, South Dakota State University
 

altThe Midwestern Chapter sponsored a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) program on December 15-17, 2016 in Aberdeen, South Dakota.  That’s correct, December in the Dakotas!  The weather can be surprisingly mild at that time of year, by not this year!  It was in the 30s and 40s the week before, and the 20s and 30s the week after, but the polar cold struck precisely during the class and temperatures dropped into the negatives.  Despite the cold weather the group conducted their practice assessments and the testing with a ‘can do’ attitude.

The class had participants from not only South and North Dakota but also from Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma so there was good representation across the chapter.  The class was held in Wylie Park, a large park managed by the City of Aberdeen.  This has been used as a site for past joint arborist training for North and South Dakota arborists.  The park has a modern, though rustic appearing, visitor center that was perfect for the indoor portion of the course and participants merely had to step outside to be able to conduct the outdoor exercise.

The class was taught by Skip Kincaid, a Missouri MWISA member, who is a highly knowledgeable and entertaining speaker. He has presented TRAQ programs across the United States and Canada and even a few colder ones! The participants ranged from tree company owners to city foresters and all had a tremendous amount of experience to draw upon during the numerous discussions. 

Despite the cold weather, the group enjoyed the opportunity to interact with other arborists from around the chapter and from different occupations.  While December might not sound like an ideal time, the participants agreed that mid-December is a down-time for companies and cities and it’s easier to be away.  As one participants say; “If it were even a few week earlier I could not afford the time away.”

The TRAQ program is an excellent opportunity for arborists to become familiar with a standardized and systematic approach to assessing tree risk.  It is not a class to learn about the major decay fungi and defects in a specific locality but the methodology to conduct assessments on several different levels regardless of the species or location.  The MWISA is providing this course as part of its goal of reaching out to all its membership with timely, science-based programing.