Tree Talk with Keith Vanderhye (10/8/2019)

I interviewed Keith Vanderhye, founder and owner of Limbwalker Tree Care LLC.  Keith graduated from Cornell University with a masters in horticulture, and has been operating his own tree care company since 2003.  I asked him a few questions I was curious about after thinking of tree work and how removing urban trees affects local ecosystems. 

“When I first started out, I would try and convince people to only prune the tree. A lot of these people's concerns stem from safety. And they think just because of a tree being close to their house, that it's it's just scares them, which is fine. I mean, obviously, all trees have some risk.”

Problem Trees (10/1/2019)


The wood chipper roared as it swallowed the last remaining oak log of the day.  As we began to rake and complete our normal cleanup process, I began to think that the work I was doing removing trees wasn’t very environmentally friendly after all.  

That morning consisted of removing a white oak and a norway spruce from tight corners between neighboring houses.  Hanging branches shaded the two homes beneath. Any mistake we made would tear down the houses. Maybe it was better to remove the trees completely than risk harming the two unknowing homeowners.

The norway spruce towered over every tree in sight, standing 100 ft tall and perfectly straight.  Behind it stood the shorter white oak with heavy limbs reaching far wider than the spruce.  

Throughout the day we used four different diesel run machines, four chainsaws with no emission cleaners, on top of the two carbon sinks we just removed from the ecosystem.  Work that I once thought was helping ecosystems grow and change was actually doing the opposite. 

It made me wonder what the effects of residential tree work really are.  How does taking down a tree affect the carbon sink of the local ecosystem?  Does one dangerous limb mean that the entire tree must come down? Why remove the tree if it was there long before the house?  Could there be a more sustainable way?  

At the end of the day, I felt guilty.  The land where the two trees previously stood was now bare, and we had just added even more carbon to the atmosphere.  

Whats Left After Dorian? (9/24/2019)

The 727 towered over the small propeller plane.  I was about to board to Abaco Islands of the Bahamas.  The small propeller plane was beat up, similar to our destination.  Separated from popular tourism spots in the Bahamas, the Abaco Islands lie in between the islands of Nassau and Freeport.  The airport in Treasure Cay is nothing more small house, and there was not a single high rise in sight when I stepped off the plane.  It was empty, it was isolated, and I loved it.  

The day after Hurricane Dorian left the island, I saw an aerial picture taken of Abaco.  Abaco was unrecognizable. 50-foot boats were piled on top of each other, or smashed into condos.  The dock and pilings were strewn about into nearby houses. The condos I stayed in were still standing.  Not a single one had a roof or walls. Hurricane Dorian completely wiped out the entire island of Abaco.  

Hurricane Dorian “stalled” over the Bahamas, standing still for a total of sixteen days. With three feet of rain and winds blowing at 183 mph, the destruction was catastrophic.  Climate change causes a general slowdown of global winds both in the tropics, where the systems form, and in the mid-latitudes, where they hit land and cause damage.  The unpredictability of storms will only grow with rising ocean temperatures. 

Next time I fly over, the island could be 20 feet underwater.