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FAST FIVE: Tree talk with Nick Goodwin

by DEVIN WEEKS/CoeurVoice Contributor
| March 20, 2021 1:00 AM

Meet Nick Goodwin, urban forester for the City of Coeur d'Alene Parks and Recreation Department. Nick lives in Hayden with his wife of nearly 14 years, Sandy, and their 6-year-old daughter Melody. Nick loves the Coeur d'Alene area and has lived in the area for going on 20 years. When not at work, Nick enjoys the outdoors, fishing and kayaking, and he is an avid football fan.

Generation: As far as what generation I describe myself, I guess I'm technically a millennial. However, being born in 1986, I remember when we did not have a computer, social media did not exist and I remember my dad's car phone and pager. So I guess I'd consider myself "millennial light," so to speak.

Career and community involvement: My job gives me the opportunity to be heavily involved in my community. Between Arbor Day, planting programs and my work with Community Canopy and the Arbor Day Association of North Idaho, I have the opportunity to encourage planting trees throughout our community, as well as educate the public regarding tree care and maintenance. I am also a member of the leadership of a football club, the North Idaho 49ers Faithful. Aside from a great community of football fans, we do our part to hold fundraisers for local charities and give back to the community. My wife and I also work with her roller derby team, CDA Roller Derby, which fundraises for several local charities.

1. What drew you to the profession of urban forester, and what do you do in that role?

I was mainly driven to urban forestry due to my love of trees and tree work. I was very fortunate to get into a position early on with the city where I get to see firsthand the importance of public trees. In my position as urban forester I manage our urban forest, which consists of more than 28,000 public trees planted in right-of-way locations and on city properties. I also manage tree work in our natural areas such as Tubbs Hill. I also assist the public with ordinance questions regarding urban forestry. Our staff performs tree work and I assist the public in coordinating tree work for trees in right-of-way locations abutting their property. I also manage tree planting and work to ensure we have a thriving, well-managed and growing urban forest.

2. Why do you feel trees are such a vital part of a neighborhood or city?

Trees provide so many benefits to our neighborhoods and community. Not only do they enhance the beauty of our community, they also provide benefits such as storm water mitigation, lower heating and cooling costs, reduced air pollution, reduction of noise pollution and reduced soil erosion, and trees increase property values. Trees also are proven to improve our quality of life. Spending time around trees has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and communities with a healthy tree population have even been shown to have babies that are born healthier. I could go on and on, but the benefits of trees are so plentiful, human beings are just supposed to be around trees.

3. What are your top five favorite trees and why?

The concolor fir: I love this evergreen because of its beauty. It varies from deep blue needles to light green. It has vertical cones that are so vibrant in spring and fall apart so you have no cones to clean. The needles are soft to the touch and I swear it's almost like they just disappear. This tree looks beautiful all season and I am inclined to plant them in almost every landscape I can.

The giant sequoia: This tree needs no introduction. If you have never experienced the redwood forests, I strongly recommend you do. I am in awe of how impressive and beautiful these trees are.

The silver linden: I just love this tree and I never have really been able to understand why I am so drawn to it. Maybe it's the silver color on the back of the leaves that almost shine when they flutter in the wind. Maybe it's how you can always seem to find honey bees and butterflies near them in the summer. They are awesome trees that grow fast and make excellent shade trees.

The sugar maple: It's the fall color. The colors are just so breathtakingly vibrant in the fall. They always catch my eye when they start to turn in the fall no matter how many times I see them.

The dawn redwood: I know it's another redwood and that's probably cheating, but I don't care. This tree has such an awesome story. They thought they were extinct for five million years, but a forester discovered a small grove of this prehistoric deciduous conifer in China. All the dawn redwood trees you see come from that one grove in China. I also just think they look really cool.

4. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

Something someone would likely be surprised to learn about me... I used to be deathly afraid of heights! This doesn't go very well with tree work and was something I had to get over pretty quickly if I was going to get into this field.

5. What are a few tips you can share as we move into spring to keep our local trees happy, healthy and alive for a long time?

The biggest tips I would give to homeowners regarding keeping their trees happy and healthy could probably fill an entire article, but here are few simple big ones.

1) Plant the right tree in the right place! All trees are beautiful in their own way but if they aren't in the right location based on the trees' needs and their height/size you are going to have problems. So make this the No. 1 factor when choosing a tree.

2) Keep maintenance equipment away from your tree trunks. I can't tell you how many young trees I've seen killed by lawn mowers and string trimmers. Create a tree well filled with mulch around your trees and keep it weed free. If everyone did this we would see far less young tree failure.

3) Correct planting is so important. If you are planting a tree, take some time to watch a planting video online or do some other research. Don't plant too deep and look for girdling roots.

4) Ask for professional help! We hire tradesmen for almost every single aspect of our homes, except our trees, it seems. Proper pruning and tree care is so important to the long-term investment that is your trees. So hire a professional certified arborist to care for your trees. Investing in proper tree care can save so much money in the long run by having trees that are healthy with good structure on your property.

5) If you have questions about trees in your public right of way or think you may need or want one planted, contact your local urban forestry office. We are your ally in proper tree care and making sure you have all the information you need regarding public trees in the right of way abutting your property.