Tree climbing has its ups and downs

March 31, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Tree climbing has its ups and downs, but for Lucas Drews, 29, of Rockford’s Woodland Tree Services it seems the sky’s the limit! Representing the Arboriculture Society of Michigan (ASM) in the recently held North American Tree Climbing Competition (NATCC) in Savannah, Ga., Lucas placed first in a field of 70 entrants (63 male and, yes, seven female) during the preliminary round. Lucas’ elite competition, this day, was composed of top climbers from all over North America. The following day, competing in the Masters Challenge championship round against the top five qualifiers, Lucas finished in second place by a scant three points. First, a little background on how Lucas arrived at these lofty heights. Mom and dad, Julie and Bill Drews, have owned and operated Woodland Tree Services, serving all of West Michigan, since 1982. Mom Julie, also the company’s office manager, said, “Lucas was climbing things [including trees] even before he could walk. It’s in his genes!” Today, one of the top climbers for Woodland, Lucas is a certified arborist/climber with a degree in ornamental horticulture from Ferris State University, and is also certified in electrical hazards awareness, along with being a Michigan Department of Agriculture certified pesticide applicator. “I feel blessed to work in an industry where I really enjoy what I do. I get to work in the out-of-doors with living organisms. There are new and exciting challenges each and every day,” said Lucas. “There’s a real dynamic in the relationships between tree climbers. We’re like a band of brothers, or family, if you will.” Different species of trees present different challenges to climbers. At the recently completed NATCC championships, Lucas found himself scaling one of the iconic and indigenous trees of the south, the live oak. “One of the things I enjoy about these competitions is that we get to compete in trees that we do not work with in our home environments,” said Lucas. “Many of these live oaks are over 100 years old and attain heights exceeding 100 feet with the diameter of the canopy exceeding 200 feet. It’s exciting but ever so challenging to deal with the dynamics of such a magnificent tree.” The preliminary round on day one consists of competing in […]