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Tree Toppers Reduce Danger of Falling Timber for Residents

The Citizen – January 8, 1989

By Judith Belton


If you’ve ever lain awake on a stormy winter night and wondered whether the next blow would bring a timber crashing down on your roof, you were probably late with your Christmas shopping too.


Heavy wind and rain this week might well have rural residents worried about tumbling trees.


According to local tree-toppers the time to check out the safety of trees growing hear your house is in the spring and summer.


And judging from the business’ fast and slow times, must Valley residents follow that rule.

“I’m busy most seasons of the year except winter,” said tree-topper Cliff Finlay of Shawnigan Lake.


The industry’s Marv Trudeau said he has two slow periods — winter and the month of August.


“People do think ahead,” Trudeau said, though he admitted he get the odd mid-storm distress call.


Finlay suggested he gets more calls regarding tree topping in better weather because that’s when homeowners are outdoors and more aware of the state of the trees on their properties.


When they spot problems, Valley residents keep five local tree-topping services busy, as well as several independents.


Finlay said homeowners can forestall problems by looking for certain signs.


“Dead wood is often quite obvious. On maple and arbutus trees,” he explained.  “It can mean the tree is in distress.  If a cone-bearing tree suddenly produces a lot of cones it can indicate the tree is weakening.”


“Brown needles or the sudden loss of needles by an evergreen can also spell trouble,”  said Trudeau.


The one-time international logger sports’ speed champion, (Trudeau held the word record for this skill for four years in the 1970s) said trees which grow tall rapidly may look nice but are more prone to blow-down in strong winds.


“They often don’t have a really well developed root system,” he said.


In their search for light, trees can end up carrying most of their weight on one side and that can make them vulnerable during windy weather.


“Problem trees in the deciduous category are maple, alder, cottonwood and poplar,” Trudeau said.  Of the evergreens, fir is most prone to root rot with occurs in the Valley.


Tree toppers do more than make sure the beautiful trees Valley residents have around their homes are safe.


“I’ve been asked to trim out a little window in a stand of trees so the homeowner could get a seaview,” Trudeau said.


One of his more unusual jobs recently called on him to climb 75-foot-high tees to gather their foot-long cones.


The winter lull in activity for local tree-topping service may provide procrastinators with some comfort — if a tapping tree limb’s causing them sleepless nights now, there’s little competition for the help that’s just a phone call away.

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