The pear trees, it seemed, were totally out of control.
They wereextending their bushy arms out into the road, into the way of traffic. Trucks and buses had been reported scratched by their branches. The situation required attention. It was a job for a tree surgeon, yes.But also a forest ranger.
They called Laura Donaldson of Davidsonville, who this year is not just any forest ranger. She's the state Forest Ranger of the Year, selected from 48 rangers for her skill and dedication.
"It's really a career more than a job in her eyes," said Will Williams, a rangerwho also handles public relations for the Forest, Park and Wildlife Service of the state Department of Natural Resources.
The problem of the pear trees on Bay Green Drive in Arnold is typical of one partof Donaldson's job: urban forestry. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it means that Donaldson often gets called out to supervise roadside tree-trimming, usually by utility or public works crews. When they cut trees without her agency's permission, she issues a citation. She was summoned to Bay Green Drive to have a look, as the county was seeking permission to trim the pear trees to clear the roadway. And so they did, with Donaldson's blessing.
Often, these tree-trimmers are not only supervised but also trained by Donaldson. She also trains volunteer fire fighters and tree-planting groups and conducts lectures on forestry for schools and community groups. In addition, she consults with forestland owners on how they can improve their property by selectively cutting trees.
Most of her time is spent out doors in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties. The outdoors, of course, is what she had in mind when she got into this line of work. Donaldson, 28, grew up on a farm on Riva Road, and remembers talking about the forest service with state nursery officers who delivered trees to the farm.
Donaldson graduated from Allegany Community College's two-year forestry program, then went to work for the Department of Agriculture. For the last eight years, she's been working as a forest ranger. She lives on a farm in Davidsonville with her husband and daughter.
In October, she was told that she'd been selected as Forest Ranger of the Year in her region, one of four jurisdictions inthe state. A committee of foresters and Department of Natural Resources staff members then chose her as the top ranger.
"I take a lot of pride in my work," she said. "It's good to know someone noticed."