Parks official adds arborist to list of titles

Parks official adds arborist to list of titles

DANVILLE – As Danville's parks and public property superintendent, Steve Lane has been involved with the design of a range of projects, including flower beds and Temple Plaza.

Recently, he finished coursework that will give him one more title: certified arborist.

"This is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but in January, I just really got serious about it," Lane said.

He added that one of the long-term goals of the city had been to be a Tree City USA, and having access to an arborist was one of the conditions for that program.

"The city really encourages all of us to broaden our horizons and get further education, attend seminars," Lane said. "I'm already responsible for all trees in the parks, making decisions to remove or save a tree. This coursework will help me make better decisions."

Lane's coursework ranged from tree identification to risk management.

"Some of it was review for me," Lane said. "But I've been out of school 20-some years; a lot has changed with methods and practices. The way of growing and maintaining trees has changed. I learned a lot too."

A tree enthusiast, Lane set a personal goal when he started with the city of planting 100 per year. He said some years have been better than others.

The Leaf a Legacy program has helped considerably, Lane said. The program allows people to sponsor tree plantings in parks and around the city for a donation.

"Our town is at a crucial time for our trees in the public right-of-way," he said. "We lost all the beautiful American elms to Dutch Elm disease and the plan was to plant fast-growing trees in their place, such as silver maple and Siberian elm."

The problem with such fast-growing trees is that they are usually of the soft-wood variety and are weak. Branches have broken in high winds and ice storms and decayed severely over the years.

"Those now-mature trees have problems. They were not good aging trees," Lane said. "We need to be more selective when we replace the trees now."

Lane also learned some psychology associated with trees.

"Studies have actually shown that areas that have a lot of tree canopy and shade have less crime. They have a calming effect," Lane said, adding that trees also will help with all the emphasis on going green and reducing greenhouse gases and global warming.

Lane became a member of the International Society of Arboriculture along with gaining his certification and will need to accumulate 30 hours of continuing education every three years.

"That will allow me to keep up on what's good for and what the threats are for our trees," he said.

Leaf a Legacy has added new trees to virtually all Danville parks, Lane said.

"Even when you look at Lincoln Park and think, 'Boy, that's a forest,' those trees are beyond their peak," he said. "We have been planting there to get another generation growing."

Lane's supervisor, Parks and Public Property Director Doug Ahrens, is appreciative of his effort to get the certification.

"It allows the city to provide a higher level of service and gives even more credibility to our department," Ahrens said.

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