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Charlotte In Market For New Tree Czar

A tree in uptown Charlotte.

It’s been about nine months since Charlotte’s longtime City Arborist, Don McSween retired – after 33 years in the job. Now, the city is recruiting a replacement to oversee Charlotte’s treasured tree canopy. WFAE’s Mark Rumsey has more on the search:

The retirement last April of City Arborist Don McSween coincided with several other departures from Charlotte’s Landscape Management division. The personnel changes prompted the city to pause and take time to assess the division’s work, including the role the chief arborist.  This month, the city posted a three-page job description.

Division Manager Quin Hall says the arborist handles all sorts of things associated with trees.  "Not just the tree itself - whether it's political, or billboards, or trees falling in the roadway - you know, it just goes on and on."  The job description calls for someone with skills in ‘urban forest management,'  pesticides, and cankerworm control. 

In 2011, Charlotte City Council adopted a goal of increasing the city’s tree canopy from the currently estimated 46-47 percent to 50 percent by the year 2050. Hall says the arborist must work with groups including businesses, homeowner associations, and developers to help achieve that goal.

In working to help enforce Charlotte’s tree-protection ordinances, Hall says, the arborist must also be a good listener and a mediator. "A tree lover," Hall adds, "but not a tree hugger." Hall says that's an important balance because, at times, the city arborist will have to make decisions that will result in a tree being taken down or moved.   

The City of Charlotte is taking online applications for the chief arborist position through midnight Friday (1/29/16).  The salary is listed as $82, 752.  

Mark Rumsey grew up in Kansas and got his first radio job at age 17 in the town of Abilene, where he announced easy-listening music played from vinyl record albums.