Arborist has unique view of campus

With around 7,000 trees on campus, Kirby Brokofsky, the only arborist at the U of S, is a busy guy, and he loves it.

"I can't believe I get paid to climb trees," said Brokofsky who recently returned from a tree climbing competition in Alberta where he was the first place competitor from Saskatchewan. "I was studying at Olds College and saw an arborist climbing a tree and knew that was the route for me."

With seven years experience as an arborist, Brokofsky is quite comfortable in the tree tops, and that has become obvious to those on campus who have seen him way up high dangling by a rope with a pruning saw in hand. One observer of Brokofsky at work said the arborist has the coolest job at the U of S.

"I look for dead wood, diseased material, insects, storm damage, branches rubbing or branches interfering with structures, and fix it," said Brokofsky. "All of that is maintenance to prevent hazards, disease and structural damage. Health of a tree is first, aesthetics would be last on the list because a healthy tree always looks good."

All year round, regardless of the weather, Brokofsky assesses the trees on campus and when he spots a potential problem, up the tree he goes. And once he's up there, he usually draws a crowd. After all, it is not an everyday sight to see someone a couple stories high, swinging from limb to limb. "On the ground, all you see is a rope until branches start to come raining down or the wood chipper starts going. Even though the area is roped off, people still stand close by to watch," said Brokofsky of the scene on the ground when he's working above.

"Right now, from Sept-ember to April, is elm season, so I need to prune all of the mature elms on campus which happen to be most of the trees around the centre of campus and the Bowl."

While he is working on the elms in the high traffic areas of campus, all he asks is that passers-by "don't come into the roped off area directly under the work zone."

Brokofsky doesn't mind the crowds that gather to watch him, but he hopes that is the only part of his work that gets any notice. "A well-pruned tree doesn't look like it has been pruned so in that way, we hope the work is as low profile as possible."

More photos of the Kirby Brokofsky in the U of S Flickr gallery.

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