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Here’s a different view, Boise: Go climb a tree ... but with some help

 Canopy Watch's next public tree climb will be in Boise's Julia Davis Park Saturday, May 14
Canopy Watch
Canopy Watch's next public tree climb will be in Boise's Julia Davis Park Saturday, May 14

Climbing a tree is a natural instinct if you’re, say, 7- or 8-years old … or possibly an arborist. But Canopy Watch, a Boise-based nonprofit which promotes “the power of trees,” wants to get more of us aloft. And while the view is breathtaking, their mission is much greater.

“Many times, people come down and they say, ‘I'll never look at trees the same way again.’ And I want people to become tree advocates when they have a choice in the future to cut down a tree or preserve a tree,” said Dr. David Anderson, Canopy Watch executive director. “I want them to be on the side of conserving the tree in their yard or their neighborhood.”

Anderson met with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the Saturday, May 14 public tree climb scheduled for Julia Davis Park, which will also include a separate competition of professional tree -climbers, and the organization’s so-called “adaptive tree climb,” offering all of the same wonder to men, women and children with a disability.

“It almost never happens that we have public tree climbs in Julia Davis Park. It's actually our first.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Climbing a tree is one of the joys of childhood. Climbing a tree as a grown up? Well, that can be a different matter. But that's not as if we can't climb trees. Getting someone who knows how to do just that with as much safety as there is joy….well, that is the key. Dr. David Anderson is here. He embraces the power of trees as the executive director of Canopy Watch. For him and his colleagues, it's all about the conservation and the respect of trees, and that nonprofit also makes it possible to spend time aloft. David, good morning.

DR. DAVID ANDERSON: Good morning to you, George. What a pleasure. Thank you so much.

PRENTICE: Let's talk about what will be happening Saturday and that is a “public tree climb” in Julia Davis Park. Maybe you could paint a word picture for our listeners what a public tree climb is.

ANDERSON: Yeah, a public tree climb is open to all members of the public. We are going to be climbing a red oak in Julia Davis Park. It almost never happens that we have public tree climbs in Julia Davis Park. It's actually our first. We have specialized equipment ropes, helmets, harness harnesses and carabiners that protect the climber from gravity and protect the tree from ourselves, which really allows the climbers to focus on the moment and the joy of just being aloft and floating in the branches.

PRENTICE: And then there's competition, right? Folks who do this on a regular basis and really know what they're doing there.

ANDERSON: At the same time in Julia Davis Park, there's a competition of professional arborists, tree surgeons who care for our trees. This is pacific northwest-wide. We're going to have some of the best tree climbers in the Pacific Northwest competing in timed events to to have a champion at the end of the day. And these men and women execute moves in the trees that are reserved for superhero movies. They can literally they can fly and swing in ways that none of us will think of until you go see it. It's really, really exciting.

PRENTICE: And this is something I'm really excited to hear more about: tell me about Idaho's first ever adaptive tree climb.

ANDERSON: All of these things are happening on the same day, Saturday, May 14th. The adaptive tree climb is a climb for I like to say it's an all-abilities tree climb or for climbers of different abilities. I don't like to cast anyone as being disabled. We will be adapting specialized systems with our ropes and pulleys to get anyone with maybe mobility or site challenges into the top of our tree. And everyone is welcome to join us.

PRENTICE: Here is my naive question of the day: While understanding how good it is to understand and appreciate our trees, we do have to acknowledge that too many of our trees are threatened by what we have done to our environment or development. Is tree climbing healthy for trees?

ANDERSON: Tree climbing is absolutely healthy for trees. We our equipment is designed and set up to protect any damage from the trees. But more importantly, we want to create an awareness and a relationship with trees. Between the climbers and the trees themselves. Many times people come down and they say, “I'll never look at trees the same way again.” And I want people to become tree advocates when they have a choice in the future to cut down a tree or preserve a tree. I want them to be on the side of conserving the tree in their yard or their neighborhood.

PRENTICE: So we want to remind our listeners that your organization is a nonprofit and indeed there is a fee for the public tree climb. But if I'm looking at your website correctly, the adaptive tree climb that will be offered for free.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. We charge $30 for members of the public. They can reserve a space at our website, can be watched. But our mission in trees is to enable and empower our climbers to see a new and better version of themselves. This is Idaho's first ever adaptive tree climb, and it's free to those adaptive athletes. But I need everyone to contact me first, any adaptive athlete to make sure that we have the staff and the reservation and the equipment and the procedures ready to accommodate your needs.

PRENTICE: How exciting. And we'll put a link to all of that on our website. In the meantime, forecast looks really good, David. Have a lovely time on Saturday in the park and in the air. David Anderson is the executive director of Canopy Watch International. By the way, what time do things get going?

ANDERSON: Oh, good question. The competition starts at about 8:00. The public tree climb starts at ten. We rotate six new climbers every hour on the hour from ten until three ending at 4:00. So please come by and any unreserved spots will be open to the public. If anyone wants to come by and see us, just stop by and we'll try and get you in.

PRENTICE: Have a great time, David. Thanks so much for giving us some time this morning.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, George. Thank you very much.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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