Arboretum trees get a high tech upgrade

By Hank Lohmeyer


Arboretum trees get a high tech upgrade | Cedaredge, Pioneer Town, Arboretum

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Ron Romatzke and Nick Greear have affixed numbered aluminum tags to trees in the Pioneer Town arboretum and throughout the rest of the museum grounds that will help anyone wanting to identify its type or location on maps they have a

The Pioneer Town arboretum is getting a high tech upgrade that will make it an even more useful resource for area landscapers and homeowners, as well as for curious arbor adorers.

Bringing accumulated knowledge from careers devoted to trees, volunteers Nick Greear and Ron Romatzke have identified, researched, cataloged, labeled and mapped all of the trees in the Charlie Baker Memorial Arboretum at Pioneer Town, as well as the other trees currently growing at the Pioneer Town complex. Their work provides accurate identification and location of the trees in a cross-referenced matrix that enables anyone to look for a particular type of tree or identify a specific tree in the landscape.

Their project has utilized some high technology savvy including GPS/GIS location and computerized map making along with their own boots-on-the-ground research.

Greear is from a three-generation Western Slope family. During a long career with the U.S. Forest Service, he worked on eight national forests between 1970 and 2003. After retirement, he and his wife moved to Delta County and now live in Cedaredge. Greear is currently serving on the Surface Creek Historical Society Board of Directors and is also pursuing a master's degree in Biblical studies.

Ron Romatzke earned a bachelor degree of science in forest management from Colorado State University. During his professional career, he served as an urban community forester for the State of Arizona. He also worked in private sector forestry management and served as president of the Montana Wood Products Association. His career accomplishments included creating urban forestry programs in 85 Arizona communities, and his various projects ultimately resulted in the planting of over three million trees in Arizona. Romatzke is currently co-owner of Arbor Acres Farm on Cedar Mesa who grows landscape trees for reclamation landscaping by the general public or for local governments.

The two expert tree men, a title once enjoyed by the late Charlie Baker in whose memory the arboretum is named, began gathering GPS data last fall on every tree on the Pioneer Town grounds. In the process, they discovered a very well done map of the trees that had been completed in 2006, but which was outdated.

Using the GPS data and their on-the-ground survey, they were able to create three maps which locate, and identify by type, each of the almost 200 trees on the grounds.

Trees have been located in relative location to one another and referenced to Pioneer Town landmarks within about 15 feet, plus or minus.

In addition, as a cross reference aid, each tree has been permanently marked with an aluminum "dog tag" identifying it by a unique number. The polymer tags that had been used in the past sometimes became lost when their attaching zip ties failed due to exposure to the weather, Nick explained. Home-

owners, landscapers or tree-loving visitors to Pioneer Town now have a ready, accurate and simple cross-reference tool for identifying particular trees or for locating an actual growing specimen of the type they may be considering planting on their own property. And all of the information that Ron and Nick have gathered is recorded in a permanent, accessible digital archive that can be updated as needed.

The two men were able to immediately identify at least 85 percent of the trees surveyed on the Pioneer Town grounds, they said. The fact that there were still about 15 percent of the trees that needed some research is a testament to the uniqueness and diversity of tree life on the grounds.

Romatzke told the DCI, "This is a pretty neat assemblage of arbors."

There will be a management plan for the arboretum written as part of the project.

Maps of the trees of Pioneer Town will be available at the welcome center, they said.

"The two men have done a wonderful job picking up where Charlie Baker left off," said Surface Creek Valley Historical Society president Richard Udd.