The City of Hot Springs now has two certified Arborists as Urban Forester Allen Bates recently earned his credentials through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
Bates, who brought his vast experience to the City in January, is now ISA certified through June 30, 2020. He joins Freddy Padilla, also of the Urban Forestry Division, to hold this exclusive credential. According to www.isa-arbor.com, this certification shows that one has “the knowledge and skills to properly care for trees,” along with a notable dedication for trees and for the community. A comprehensive exam must be passed to receive the certification, and a minimum of 30 continuing education credits must be earned over the following three years.
“We are very pleased Allen Bates is part of our City of Hot Springs family. His knowledge and experience is critical to our goal of increasing our tree canopy and green space within the community. The Urban Forester position is a requirement for the City to maintain our status as a Tree City, USA municipality,” said Hot Springs City Manager Bill Burrough. “I congratulate Allen on his attainment of the ISA Certified Arborist certification, and know that even more great things are yet to come.”
Along with the extensive educational opportunities available to Bates through the ISA, he is thankful to be joining an international network of urban foresters. Hot Springs is one of only four cities in Arkansas to have an Urban Forestry division, yet having so few in the state limits opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
As a third-generation timber specialist, he was drawn to the position of urban forester for the City so that he could specialize in trees and forestry and continue to learn.
“Trees do so much to improve our quality of life,” explained Bates. “The more than 10,000 trees within the city provide oxygen, help clean our environment, manage stormwater runoff, provide shade and lower electric bills. Research even shows that looking out of a window at a tree lowers anxiety and stress and improves your health.”
His role includes identification of trees; diagnosis and prognosis of tree diseases; insect and tree-risk management; and tree nutrition. He is also responsible for the landscaping portion of incoming building permits, which involves giving feedback or final approval once he is requested to review a completed development project. For every parking spot at a new construction site, developers must accrue 100 landscaping points as outlined in the Hot Springs Code Landscape Regulations. The highest number of points is awarded for retaining existing trees during a construction project. The next highest point category is the addition of new canopy trees, followed by the addition of shrubbery, and then by groundcover or flowers. For more detailed information, visit www.cityhs.net/landscape-regulations.
Looking ahead, Bates plans to update the City’s tree inventory. As such an inventory was last done more than 15 years ago, he is anxious to see how far the City has come with regards to the number of trees in the City, as well as the overall health and diversity of our trees.
He is also working to implement an interactive tree identification tagging system. It will begin with certain species along the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail (HSGC), along with a few unique trees in the community. Using a mobile app, citizens will be able to locate the tagged trees on a virtual map. Once at a tagged tree, the user will be able to scan a QR code to pull up a webpage with more information about that particular tree or species. Included in project will be the City’s two Eisenhower Green Ash trees, which are near the Veterans Memorial on the HSGC. There is also a tree that came from a cutting on George Washington’s estate. The Tulip Popular is located on the campus of the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. Bates also mentioned recently acquiring the City an extremely rare Stern’s Medlar. Once it is added to the HSGC, it will be included in the trees to be tagged. This species is only known to grow in a single 22-acre site in eastern Arkansas.
Bates is no stranger to rare acquisitions as he was the first in Arkansas to receive a rodeo scholarship on his way to earning an Agricultural Education degree from Arkansas State University. Following a 16-year stint as a professional rodeo competitor and more than 25 years as a production forester, he put his Ag-Ed education to use as the Garland County horticulture agent through the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. During his seven years with the agency, his responsibilities were wide-ranging and included overseeing the 225-strong Garland County Master Gardeners, as well as education and consultation on turf, gardening, and trees. He also enjoyed fielding questions across a broad range of topics asked by citizens and area organizations.
To find out more about Urban Forestry at the City of Hot Springs, visit www.cityhs.net/forestry.