Certified arborist appointed to Sarasota Tree Advisory Council

Two other seats remain open

Joseph Vibonese. Image from the Simply Trees LLC website

With two seats still vacant on the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council (STAC), the County Commission this week appointed Joseph Vibonese of Nokomis to a three-year, at-large term on that board.

The action came as a result of unanimous commission approval of the commission’s April 9 Consent Agenda of routine business matters.

In his application, Vibonese wrote that he is a certified arborist who works with Simply Trees LLC of Venice.

Amber Clark, owner of Simply Trees, previously served on the STAC.

He applied last year for a seat on the STAC, but at that time, Commissioner Mark Smith nominated Jean-Ellen Trapani — also of Nokomis — for reappointment to the advisory board.

A county staff memo included in the April 9 agenda packet noted that the three vacancies on the STAC are a factor of term expirations. The vacancies were advertised on the county’s website, the memo explained, but Vibonese was the only individual who applied.

As the county’s website points out, the STAC’s purpose is to “[r]ecommend street and neighborhood planting projects and priorities; assist the county in updating and revising a consolidated tree list; assist in the dissemination of public information.” The advisory council also  reviews and recommends “revisions to the Sarasota County Code of Ordinances relating to trees and nominate[s] new canopy roads for BCC consideration,” the webpages say.

A “[b]ackground in landscape architecture, arboriculture, horticulture, tree management, land development or similar related field [is] strongly preferred” for STAC members, the webpages adds. The advisory board has nine seats.

In his application, Vibonese wrote that he wanted to serve on the STAC for the following reasons:

  • “To be of assistance to the County and the community with my knowledge in arboriculture.
  • “Assist in further educating the public with proper tree care.”
These are slash pines that past STAC Chair Amber Clark described as having been ‘brutalized.’ Image courtesy Sarasota County

Vibonese has multiple certifications, his application points out, including the fact that he is “Pruning Prescription Qualified” and TRAQ certified. As the International Society of Arborists (ISA) explains, “The ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (ISA TRAQ) is a voluntary qualification program designed to train and assess candidates in a specialized field of arboriculture. When a professional earns the ISA TRAQ credential, they should be recognized by their peers and the public as a tree care professional who has specialized knowledge in tree risk assessment. To earn the qualification, eligible candidates must complete a training course, and pass both a comprehensive written assessment and a performance-based assessment. To maintain the qualification, current credential holders must retrain and retest every five years.”

The ISA adds, “The program offers tree care professionals the opportunity to learn a standardized, systematic process for assessing tree risk and providing information to tree owners and risk managers when making decisions that will promote the safety of people and property and enhance tree benefits, health, and longevity.”

During annual presentations to the County Commission through the years, STAC chairs often have talked about the need for greater public education in regard to tree trimming, using slides to illustrate devastation to trees as a result of work of poor quality.