I'm the New Tree Guy
One of the smallest, least controversial actions at the last City Council meeting had more impact on me than most: the Council formally appointed yours truly as their representative to the Tree Advisory Commission, a joint effort between the City and the Park Board. My alternate is Shannon McDonough, Aide to First Ward Council Member Kevin Reich.
My impending appointment led to Council Member Robert Lilligren asking me a question about Emerald Ash Borer with an interesting preface: "you're the new tree guy, right?"
This struck me as somewhat strange. I'm as much of a 'treehugger' as the next Green, but I don't know much about our leafy neighbors, other than that they're good for our city: they reduce energy use, increase water quality, reduce stormwater runoff, combat urban heat island effect, and make our streets more pleasant. I will bring nowhere near the expertise to this position that former First Ward Policy Aide Lorrie Stromme did; she not only values trees, she knows quite a bit about them. She was a great advocate within the City, and her shoes will be tough to fill.
But I'll try. One of my first missions is to set up a presentation by the TAC before the Regulatory Energy and Environment committee on the subject of the Ash Borer. A longer term goal is to be able to tell an ash from a linden from a maple - anything beyond the coniferous/deciduous divide is pretty much beyond me at this point. For the time being, I'm enjoying the opportunity to soak up some of the knowledge of this great group of tree experts, and help the City put more tree-friendly policies in place.