About Trees for Life


300px-2009-11-04_20-View_north_from_the_top_of_the_Apple_Pie_Hill_fire_towerTrees represent different things to different people; They’re beautiful. They’re messy. They’re a fire hazard. They provide shade. They block my view. They are my view. They have value as lumber. They have value standing, alive. Certainly an argument could be made for all those contradicting points.

For me, trees always seemed to play an important role in my life whether it was stealing my first kiss as an eight year old up in a Norway Maple tree or as a teenager abruptly encountering a large Sycamore that prevented my car from landing in a ravine one fateful summer night.  Shortly thereafter I found myself attending college in a seemingly odd & uninhabited part of New Jersey known then as the Pine Barrens, home to the Pygmy Pitch Pine and the New Jersey Devil. Soon after leaving it became The New Jersey Pineland National Reserve, the first of its kind in the U.S. that not only harbors countless birds, mammals, and reptiles but recharges a 17 trillion gallon aquifer that contains some of the purest water in the United States. In New Jersey!

As if by some osmotic pull I found myself in the Pacific Northwest land of 250’ old growth Douglas Firs and 1400 year old Western Red Cedars. I was immediately drawn to leafy city parks, dark lowland forests that encased salmon filled rivers, and alpine monarchs growing out of seemingly solid rock all of which elevated my love of trees and crystalized my awareness of their importance in all of our lives.2009 02 14 064

A true awakening came when I learned that helping people manage their trees is an honorable (yet dangerous) profession. Over the years working in and with trees is as natural as a writer working with a keyboard, it has become a natural expression of myself.

After 26 years of practicing Arboriculture in the Seattle area I became a permanent resident of Bigfork, Montana in 2005. Because of the undisputable benefits that trees provide to our day to day lives we have chosen to live within a forest. With those benefits comes the heightened sense of awareness of potential fire danger along with the ebb and flow of a variety of insect and disease problems. Taking care of our own forest combined with 36 years of working with several hundred different variety of trees translates perfectly to meeting the needs of our clients that we serve in the area.

It’s safe to say that a large percentage of residents in Flathead County live in, near, or around trees. 94% or 3.2 million acres of Flathead County’s landmass is comprised of National or State Forest Land, Wilderness, Agriculture, and Corporate Timber Land. We live, swim, or fish in the remaining 6%! Most of us are in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) where State or Federal Forests dovetail with private property or more than likely the forest next to your forest is privately owned as well.


People flock from all over the world to sight- see and recreate in the Flathead Valley. Many come from places where thick forests once stood and now only remnants remain, they leave green with envy.

Whether you have forested acreage or have one special tree that’s been around for 100 years just remember that they are an important part of what makes the Flathead unique and Trees For Life Montana can help you preserve your piece of “The Last Best Place”.  – Ian MacCallum

Interview with Ian

University of Montana Photo Journalism student Derek Minemyer interviews Ian MacCallum of Trees for Life Montana.

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