Georgia Arborist Association Founder Urges Members to Take Action

Peter "Treeman" Jenkins, a founding member of the Georgia Arborist Association (GAA), sent the following letter to the GAA Board on June 15, 2011:

GAA Board,

I think that anyone interested in preserving Atlanta's trees should get involved with the WRT ordinance update. Face it, we are the most knowledgeable folks out there around the issues of trees and tree care. The more interest we show as a profession, the more chance the ordinance comes out as something that will serve the trees, tree care professionals, and tree owners.

Now there are some divided opinions about the Atlanta tree ordinance. On one side it is good there is some kind of ordinance to keep people from clearing out all of their trees because some tree "professional" said they are dead, dying, or hazardous. And let's not forget those folks that are tired of raking leaves and picking up after trees. Face it, if all the trees were cut down, we as tree care folks would not have any tree CARE work.

The other side of the ordinance issue is that it is a pain in the butt getting a removal permit and dealing with decision makers that are not highly trained in the problems of trees. I ran a tree care business here in Atlanta for 30 years (Treeman Inc.), and there were times I really disliked the folks downtown when it came to removal permits that I knew needed to be issued for hazardous trees but was denied. I had a love/hate relationship the ordinance at times.

It is well and good that Atlanta is contracting an outside source to come up with a plan to upgrade Atlanta's tree ordinance. But what happens when you have a strong ordinance and there is no one to enforce it? Atlanta has a serious problem with enforcement issues. There are three people assigned to enforce the ordinance now out in the field. The three assigned to do that task have a poor record in carrying out what is currently in place as evidenced by open records on performance of the two arborists.

Everyone needs to check out the Tree Next Door. They have been the voice demanding a clearer ordinance that is easy to understand. This is THE advocacy group in Atlanta that has been struggling to have the city of Atlanta accountable for how it is enforcing (lack of enforcing) the ordinance.

Go to http://www.treenextdoor.org for more information.

Better yet, attend the next meeting (details at the above web site) and become a member at $25 a year. This organization also rallied in a whistle blowing case after the firing of GAA's past Treasurer, Tom Coffin. He recently won the case BTW. Why was he fired with no pink slip or warning? He was holding the reporting arborists to account with their report writing (Tom held the position of senior arborist) and not bowing down to developers in their attempt to get trees signed off as dead, dying, and diseased with no payment of recompense fines.

So if you want to cast a vote for the trees in Atlanta, join/donate to The Tree Next Door. Then join forces with them in helping upgrade the Atlanta tree ordinance. I would suggest the GAA collaborate with this organization. The Tree Next Door has been working on this issue for years now. Time to team up!

Action steps to take:

1. Provide input to the WRT ordinance update.
2. Check out the Tree Next Door.  http://www.treenextdoor.org
3. Attend a Tree Next Door meeting and join/donate. The next meeting is June 27.
4. Please forward this e-mail to anyone you know that is interested in trees and tree care.

Peter "Treeman" Jenkins
Certified Arborist

Peter Jenkins is the Founder of Tree Climbers International Inc.(www.treeclimbing.com) and President of TreeInspection.com, LLC (www.treeinspection.com)

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