Madison Arborist Utilizes Surprising Techniques

By Emily Julka | October 31, 2019


Evan Slocum is a one-of-a-kind arborist.

“I think the way that I do things is pretty different,” Slocum says, referring to both his tactics and equipment. “I try to keep it as simple as I can while being efficient.”

Slocum has been a tree expert for a number of years, even spending time pruning trees for the New York City Parks Department: “Very archaic techniques there. Everything’s worked out of a bucket and everything’s cut-and-throw branches. It’s old school techniques there.”

After moving back to Wisconsin and starting his own business in 2011, Slocum employs what he considers to be more progressive approaches. He uses mountain climbing gear to suspend himself in the tree while he prunes branches, and he can also use a three-story crane to fly himself around the tree with a chainsaw in hand.

Slocum’s interest also goes beyond the physicality of an arborist’s job. His curiosity originated in the complex nature of a city’s designed urban forest. How do trees on private property contribute to the larger tree footprint, the area’s urban forest? He says he’s “trying to really look beyond just street trees.”

That became the underlying theme for Urban Tree Management, the for-profit sector of his business ventures. “When we start talking about urban forestry, everyone thinks of street trees. I was interested in what was going on in private property and how that composition was changing,” he explains. In cities like Madison, trees on private property can make up to 80% of the urban tree composition.

Lately, his company has been keeping busy treating and removing trees infected with Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle that is wiping out the city’s ash trees. His tree removal and tree pruning techniques help his business stand out. He believes they add efficiency to the whole process, allowing him to do more work in general.

His mission morphed over the years, along with his experience. He aims to work with property owners to find ways to make their trees work for them, saying, “I’ve really come to value the individual relationship people have with their trees, and the value they place on them.”

“Living in harmony with trees in their urban environment means feeling good about the trees that are there: the aesthetic of it, the value that they’re adding to the property, and the safety of those trees.”

Emily Julka

Emily Julka

Emily Julka is a producer and storyteller for the “Wisconsin Life” project. She tries to make the best of all four seasons in Wisconsin, and considers the Upper Peninsula of Michigan “definitely part of our state.”

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