Dormont Park spruced up for tree-climbing competition

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Neither rain nor snow could deter the mission at Dormont Park.

“They [worked] when the polar vortex was here and it was 8 degrees,” said Matt Erb, director of urban forestry at Tree Pittsburgh.

The mission March 21 was for local tree-care specialists to prepare Dormont Park for the International Society of Arborists Pennsylvania-Delaware chapter’s Tree Climbing Championship May 17. Their efforts resulted in substantial improvement to the park’s trees at no cost to Dormont.

“If you figure about $1,500 to trim a large tree, easily, we’re getting $30,000, maybe $45,000, worth of service,” said Jeff Naftal, borough manager.

The specialists scaled trees to prune branches and to take other measures to get ready for the annual competition, which will include a variety of activities, including belayed speed climb and simulated aerial rescue. 

The event is open to spectators and hundreds were on hand to watch last year at North Park, said Mr. Erb of Lawrenceville, chairman of the Penn-Del chapter. The competition has been held at other sites in the region, including Allegheny Cemetery and Allegheny Commons, he said.  

Tree Pittsburgh, a Pittsburgh nonprofit dedicated to restoring and protecting trees, took part in the work at Dormont Park with crews from Pittsburgh and about a dozen tree companies.

Dormont was chosen for this year’s tourney in part because of a tree inventory completed by the borough in 2011 in an effort to better manage and improve trees.

“It did a lot of the upfront planning for us,” Mr. Erb said of the inventory. “We really try to focus on heavily used areas of the park to make those areas as safe as possible.”

Mr. Naftal said Dormont plans to publicize the competition to draw people to the park and to create awareness of the efforts made on behalf of the trees.

Companies that provided in-kind services March 21, as part of the Penn-Del chapter’s western Arbor Day of Service were: Arborel Tree Service Inc., Asplundh Tree Expert Co., Bartlett Tree Experts, Lyle Blum Tree Service, Davey Tree Expert Co., Eisler Landscapes, Hazlett Tree Service Inc., Horhut Tree Experts, Lewis Tree Service, Nelson Tree Co. and Tall Timber Tree Experts.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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