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Colorado windstorm highlights need for more arborists, tree service workers

Denver Tree and Landscape, for example, had to take their landscapers off projects to help fill the demand for downed trees.

DENVER — When a wind event happens in Colorado, arborists and tree service companies like Denver Tree and Landscape know to be prepared. 

“It just kinda doesn’t happen, and then it does. And then probably in the next two, three hours as people were getting off of work, and show up with trees in their driveways and around their houses, the phone’s really going to start ringing here," said Joshua Davis, the co-owner and president of the tree service and landscaping company. 

On Wednesday, the Denver metro took some of the damage that came with heavy wind gusts, including several spots with downed, and in some cases uprooted, trees.

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Even though it's technically the company's slow season, the storm spiked demand for some companies like Davis'.

“What we’re doing now is I’m pulling my landscaping crew off their jobs for tomorrow," Davis said. "Today and the rest of the evening is just making sure that there’s no dangers, there’s not hanging branches that’s gonna hurt somebody, any trees on houses, driveways that are blocked that people can’t get out if there’s a medical emergency. So that’s our focus today.”

Credit: Mat Gaskins
A worker for Denver Tree and Landscape saws a downed tree Wednesday.

He said there's a need for more workers in the industry.

“Generally right now, it’s been like this for a few years, it’s just finding people willing to work that want to do it," he said. "I have constant ads out, always asking people that work for us, ‘Hey, if you know anybody that wants to come on board...'"

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 52,040 tree trimmers and pruners nationwide as of May 2020. 

Colorado is left out of the top five list for states that have the highest employment levels in that field.

According to the 2021 Green Industry Benchmark Report, which examines services like arbor care, snow removal, irrigation service and holiday lighting, 71% of respondents in the report said they had difficulty finding employees. But that number includes more than just businesses in arbor care. 

Credit: Mat Gaskins
A worker for Denver Tree and Landscape sifts through tools before tending to a downed tree Wednesday.

“It’s not the jobs that we don’t have, it’s the people to do the jobs," Davis said. 

As of right now, he said, he can hire two or three more people. But come springtime, particularly in April, he has the capability to hire up to about 10 people. 

“It’s the right time to get into a skilled trade that your income is really determined on your ability to learn," he said.

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