The Coast News Group

Encinitas expects to approve contract for city’s so-called ‘Lorax’ on Wednesday, May 10

The Encinitas City Council on May 10 is expected to approve a contract with Encinitas-based environmental and engineering firm Dudek for $20,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year and $90,000 next year.

Dudek beat out Davey Resource Group, Four Seasons Tree Care, Pro Tree Care and the San Diego Botanic Garden for the contract.

“The review committee judged Dudek to be best qualified to provide City Arborist services, having extensive municipal government experience including the preparation of urban forest management plans,” a city staff report stated.

According to the staff report, Dudek’s proposed City Arborist is Chris Kallstrand, an urban forestry specialist with 12 years of experience and who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. Kallastrand’s team includes senior arborist Mike Huff and arborists Michael Scott and Scott Eckardt.

The City Council began looking into the arborist position in 2015, when a council subcommittee composed of former Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer and Councilman Tony Kranz recommended the city explore hiring or contracting for the position.

They envisioned the arborist as the go-to employee for issues surrounding the city’s so-called “urban forest,” the collection of public trees and landscape within the city limits. They likened it to The Lorax, the character in Dr. Seuss’ book that spoke for the trees.

The Council in December authorized city staff to start the process of finding an arborist.

Staff released a request for proposals in late February and a review committee consisting of utility and maintenance Supervisor John Ugrob, Parks and Beach Superintendent Annette Saul; Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Campbell and Assistant City Mangaer Mark Delin interviewed the applicants.