RICHMOND, Va. -- A color canopy of trees covers the River City. But the city’s urban forest needs attention every day.
“We’ve got red and white oak. We’ve got sycamores,” says Ken Venos with the Richmond Tree Stewards. “We have American elms. Sugar maples.”
In an urban setting the elements and accidents with cars and trucks take their toll on trees. Armed with saws big and small, Louise Seals and her friends with the Richmond Tree Stewards branch out across the city from The Fan to Fulton making sure our trees survive and thrive.
“I love doing it. This is great,” says Seals.
The Richmond Tree Steward’s mission isn’t just about the health of trees. It is also about safety for drivers and cyclists. The stewards clear tree branches that cover STOP signs and street signs.
“We are very careful not to hurt the tree any more than we have to,” says Seals. “Many of the signs are obscured or the sight line at the corner are obscured.”
This group takes tree TLC seriously.
“You know these trees need our intervention,” says Steward Janine Lester. “The dividends is that we have a safer canopy in Richmond that will provide benefits to our city for years to come.”
It takes 10 weeks to become one of the certified stewards.
“The training is super important,” says Seals.
The group works with the city arborist who targets the root of problems. The Richmond Tree Stewards receive no pay.
“There are a lot of trees in Richmond and there is a lot of work to do,” says Lester.
About 80 members make up the Richmond Tree Stewards. Each year they prune, water and plant about 3,000 trees across the city.
Steward Ken Venos can handle a saw with ease.
“It’s not just droning on and picking up sticks,” says Venos. “It has been a terrific learning experience for me.”
The former orthopedic surgeon finds great satisfaction working on a different sort of limb.
“It just takes a lot of maintenance,” says Venos. “We as volunteers… anything we can do we are glad to help.”
The Richmond Tree Stewards are a group of like-minded citizens improving our urban forest. Their efforts are helping Richmond turn over a new leaf.
Louis Seals says, “I have never met a group of people so passionate and willing to volunteer to make the city a little bit better. In some cases a lot better.”
If you know someone with a unique story email Greg McQuade at Ihaveastory@wtvr.com.