Alabama Forestry Event in Gulf Shores: Tree care professionals in Gulf Shores, Alabama, are honing their expertise in what’s commonly known as “tree-trimming.” The Alabama Urban Forestry Association recently concluded its annual conference in Baldwin County with a thrilling tree climbing competition.
Before gracefully navigating from branch to branch high up in the expansive canopy of a live oak tree, competitors invest several minutes on the ground preparing their safety lines. I observed each participant dedicating about a third of their 25-minute competition time on the ground. Once airborne, that’s when the adrenaline truly kicks in.
“It feels good. That’s about the only time my brain ever shuts off,” shared a sweaty Lane Anderson, just completing his 25-minute tree trial. While they may appear solitary amidst the treetops, throughout the entire process, climbers communicate each step to the ground crew below.
“I love the competitive nature, but also, the camaraderie is unlike any other sport. It’s an independent sport. But yeah, us climbers come out here as a team, and we help each other,” added Anderson. When working in high, confined spaces like a tree, safety and efficiency are paramount.
“It’s a very labor-intensive job. We work in all types of weather—inclement weather, hot. It’s very physically demanding,” emphasized Nathan Taylor with Taylor Tree Service. Each competitor endeavors to reach four bells attached to different limbs in less than 30 minutes while performing a specific task, providing a means to refine their skills.
“The tree industry is a very unregulated industry. These training events help up-and-coming people to do things a better way,” noted Josh Rutherford with West Alabama Arboriculture. The weekend commenced with over a dozen individuals participating in various tree-care tasks. The top five navigated a 25-minute course on the same tree on Sunday, and Justin Cantrall emerged as the winner.