Deftly moving from branch to branch of the old oak tree, Jesse Brighten put on a performance in Langley this past week that was part trapeze artist, part mountain climber.
The International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist with 10 years of experience practicing on Whidbey Island was in town Friday to remove broken string lights and prune dead branches from the iconic tree at Whale Bell Park. He was hired by the Langley Main Street Association, which originally placed the lights in the tree to brighten the dark fall and winter nights in town.
Brighten not only quickly completed the work, at times 40 feet up in the tree, but brought with him a presentation packed with information in honor of Arbor Day. As he swung high above, secured by climbing ropes and harness, Elliott Menashe of Greenbelt Consulting was the eyes and partner on the ground watching for pedestrians and offering ample information for the curious folks that gathered.
Trees provide numerous benefits, according to Menashe, from providing shade, privacy, and wind block to improving air quality, conserving water and harboring wildlife. Trees, long enduring and beautiful, can also become part of a community, he said. There have been many past efforts to save particularly large or historic trees on South Whidbey, such as along Surface Road, Andreason Road and the old growth forest at South Whidbey State Park. Trees are an investment, long living and quickly growing to a size that may require help from a professional, he said.
Brighten brought along several displays that highlighted tree problems, and offered educational tips to observers, from pruning to what to look for when hiring an arborist.
He added there are better ways to add brighten up a tree than with light strands — they can constrict and be swallowed by a growing tree. Instead, use lighted globes with wide straps, a tip Main Street officials said they will consider.