Arborists from across the St. Louis region descended on Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, then ascended into the trees and went to work. Armed with everything from rakes and pole pruners to chainsaws and chippers, these tree care professionals had one goal in mind—to make the cemetery canopy safer, and more beautiful for visitors.
The collaborative effort is part of a nationwide day of service organized by Saluting Branches. Celebrating its 4th year in 2018, the event provided free tree care and landscape services to 53 veterans cemeteries throughout the U.S.
At Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, 70 arborists turned out on a hot September day to do their part. Some were veterans themselves, and many had a family member interred somewhere on the grounds. 18 companies and organizations—including arborists from the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Tree Crew—donated equipment, time, and labor (see the full list below).
Much of the work this year focused on removing low-hanging branches and dead wood. A crew from Allen’s Tree Service employed a boom-mounted, hydraulic grappling saw to remove an entire tree without disturbing the burial sites below. Crews also took special care to avoid disrupting military funeral ceremonies. Occasionally, the sound of rifle volleys could be heard between cuts of a chainsaw as a veteran was laid to rest.
Skip Kincaid of Hansen’s Tree Service, who helped organize the local event, says arborists put in approximately 420 work hours, and provided pruning and removal services for 275 trees. The dollar value of the work adds up to approximately $45,000 but for those who took part it was about much more than a bottom line.
“It was an honor to serve our fallen veterans and their families,” says Jim Cocos, Senior Manager of Horticulture for the Missouri Botanical Garden. Cocos is among those who have family at the cemetery.
Participating companies and organizations
Allen’s Tree Service | Asplundh Tree Expert Company | Beyond Housing | City of Richmond Heights – Forestry Division | City of St. Louis | Clipper Tree Service | Cuiver River Electric Cooperative | Davey Tree Expert Company | Gamma Tree Service | Gateway Tree Care | Hansen’s Tree Service | Harrell Tree Service | Hudson Tree Service | J.P. Tree Service | Metropolitan Forestry Services | Missouri Botanical Garden | Missouri Department of Conservation | Pea Ridge Forest | Timber Warriors | T.L. Tree Service
Cassidy Moody – Digital Media Specialist