- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) - Bart Howard shimmies up a white oak tree moving carefully and deliberately.

The Muscatine Journal (http://bit.ly/1SSbx14 ) reports that Howard, 26, owner of Howard Forest & Prairie, of Letts, knows to take his time and not rush as he prepares to take down the large tree which has grown too close to a home. The space was too tight to allow for the bucket truck so Howard was doing it the old-fashioned way.

“I like to climb trees. Looking back I always liked to climb trees. Yeah, it’s fun. It’s definitely a workout and it’s hard on the body,” he said.

He has climbed as high as 110 feet but the average day-to-day climb is more like 50 feet.

Howard started the business part time while working as an arborist. He went full time in February 2015.

“I did it coming out of school. I studied forestry at Iowa State. I never imagined myself being an arborist. I wanted to be a national park ranger but I graduated during the middle of the hiring freeze so I wound up finding a job as an arborist. I enjoyed doing it. And with the emerald ash borer being present in Muscatine, there was a need that needed filled. I took the leap of faith and went full-time,” Howard said.

Besides space constraints making use of the bucket truck not feasible, the weight of the truck, 24,000 pounds, could do a lot of damage to a client’s yard.

“A lot of times you can’t do things (from a bucket) that you can do when you are climbing,” he said.

When he climbs, he uses a main rope and a lanyard that he can attach to the tree as a secondary safety measure.

“Certain species of trees have different wood characteristics so you get out on the tip of a limb, limb walking, and it’s bouncing and you’ve got a bad rope angle and you’re like, ‘Oh, boy,’” he said. “That’s when I want to get back close to the main trunk.”

When he climbs, he uses a main rope and a lanyard that he can attach to the tree as a secondary safety measure.”Back when I started climbing, I was limb walking and I was using purely my balance and I swung back into the tree. I learned a lesson to be careful and get a good angle.”

Howard graduated from Muscatine High School in 2007 and Iowa State University in 2011 with a degree in agricultural business and forestry.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own business. Believe it or not, I like to be outside and I like finances,” he said.

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Information from: Muscatine Journal, http://www.muscatinejournal.com

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