Volunteer arborists trim trees at Executive Mansion

By John Reynolds
Springfield, IL (March 29, 2011)- Calling it a day of service to the state of Illinois, 15 Illinois Arborist Association arborists from throughout the state descended on Springfield’s Executive Mansion in order to perform free tree care in getting the home ready for spring.

A small army of tree professionals converged on the Executive Mansion on Tuesday, trimming branches and removing trees damaged by the winter weather. No charge. Harry Lewis, horticulturalist at the mansion, said if it wasn’t for the tree companies donating their equipment and labor, the work probably wouldn’t get done.
“Right now, there isn’t much in the budget. Most of the things I do have to be done by donations or that type of thing. Luckily, we’ve had a lot of companies help us,” Lewis said. Tuesday’s workday was spearheaded by the Illinois Arborist Association. Four companies took part in the project, which involved removing dead branches that were in danger of falling. Mark Younger, president of the association and municipal arborist for Evanston, said the branches, if left untrimmed, could pose a safety hazard. “Any dead wood that is 3 inches in diameter or larger becomes a potential hazard. If that falls, it could kill somebody. So we’re cleaning out the dead wood,” Younger said.
The mansion, 410 E. Jackson St., has 65 shade trees, 70 ornamentals and 15 evergreen trees. In addition to removing the dead branches, the workers trimmed limbs that were hanging over the sidewalk along Jackson Street. Workers also removed five birch trees that were damaged during last winter’s storms. If the mansion had to hire a company to do the work, the bill would be about $6,000 to $8,000. Jackson noted that he doesn’t have the staff or equipment to do the work in-house, either. “I’m the grounds crew; it’s a crew of one,” he said. “I do have help from the Logan Correctional Center.”
One of the companies helping was Throop and Son Tree Service of Springfield. Earl Throop Jr. said the employees he brought with him volunteered their time. “My guys took the day off work to come here,” Throop said. “The city of Springfield has done a lot for us. We’ve been in business over 80 years now. This is our way of giving back.” Tuesday’s work will make the mansion more visible from the streets, and it will allow more light to get through, Throop said. “They have a lot of unique dogwoods. We’re trying to get them some more light so they can grow better,” he said.
Lewis said he appreciated the help, and he added that the arborists aren’t the only volunteers who help make the mansion’s grounds look nice. The Springfield Civic Garden Club has provided grants, and last year, the mansion received a $1,000 grant from the club that was used to buy planters. “We have a lot of places help us with the garden here,” Lewis said. Other tree companies assisting with Tuesday’s work were Pacesetter Tree Care of Springfield, Brammer Tree Service of Springfield and Heartwood Tree Solutions in Mahomet. Springfield city arborist Mike Dirksen and arborist Bill Bolt also pitched in.
Earl Throop Jr. of Throop and Son Tree Service says now is a good time for homeowners to inspect their trees for potential problems. Problems to be on the lookout for include dead or broken branches and cracks that could affect the structural integrity of the tree. Throop advises that people inspect the tree from the ground using binoculars. “I suggest they try to look at the tree from the ground and see if there are any large, dead limbs that are hanging or broken,” Throop said. “If you see any structural cracks where something doesn’t look right, then you really need to hire a professional to come out.”
Related Resources:
The State Journal-Register – Volunteer arborists trim trees at Executive Mansion
Illinois Arborist Association