Skookum Tree Care sprouted on Lopez Island in 2014. Founder and owner, Miles Becker, moved to the island after chasing birds around the country for 12 years for conservation and research. A project on bird responses to urban development led to a stint volunteering with the City of Reno Urban Forestry tree crew in 2011. Climbing and working in trees turned out to be a fun way to engage with wildlife habitat for people's benefit. A few more jobs with private companies, preparation for arborist certification, and continuing education credits later, and the path to becoming a professional arborist had started.
Arborists differ from other tree care professionals, such as landscapers or gardeners, in their depth and scope of knowledge and skills for woody stem plants. Comprehension of basic biological principles related to botany and soil science, for example, are necessary in addition to mechanical practices, such as pruning and technical removals. The International Society of Arboriculture maintains standards for arborists within the industry and develops the criteria for certification. An ISA Certified Arborist must possess a minimum of knowledge and abilities, although in practice, individuals vary greatly in their strengths and area of expertise beyond those required for certification.
In addition to verification of the quality of their work, independent arborists need to be licensed contractors. A specialist contractor license for tree care is an administrative title indicating compliance with state laws. In Washington State, contractors are required to have general liability insurance and a surety bond. Both are protection measures for the consumer or client. Insurance typically covers major damage to a property resulting from work by the arborist or tree care business. A claim has to be filed, the same as any other type of insurance. Bonds are funds available to clients for loss of finances, such as money spent because of a failure of a contractor to complete their work. Many conditions and limitations apply to the insurance coverage and access to bonds. Be sure to check out the Labor and Industries website for more details.