Final Thoughts: An Interview with Linden Lampman

Benjamin Thompson Benjamin Thompson
Urban Forestry Specialist, Washington State Department of Natural Resources
More articles by Benjamin Thompson.

Linden Lampman is the Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
What’s your favorite tree and why?

I used to say “oak.” Oaks are rugged, enduring, and present. A great bur oak stands in the backyard of my family’s farm in Wisconsin. It was huge when I was a child, and still is. It is one of the reasons I grew to respect and love trees.

Most recently, I fell in love with a Katsura tree in my back yard. The tree reveals the most incredible colors, plus the song birds love it. Most importantly, it reminds me of a past dear friend and mentor, Karen Haskew. Katsuras were her favorite.

For me, my favorite species may best be expressed with the lyrics of a song by Stephen Stills…  “Love the one you’re with…”

How long have you been a certified Arborist (or, member of the PNW-ISA Chapter) and what does being an Arborist (or chapter member) mean to you?

I have been a certified arborist since January 1998. A mentor, Rich Baker, used to say that having a certification doesn’t make you a good arborist, and he challenged me to continue learning.

PNW-ISA made that possible. As a chapter member I have access to excellent educational opportunities and learned about the complexities of arboriculture, best management practices, and research findings. Attending the Annual Training Conference is a great way to learn about trees, meet new friends, initiate new partnerships, and network with peers.

What are you most proud of, either in your career, your personal life, or both?

Professionally, the most fulfilling thing for me has been building partnerships and programs that remain sustainable to this day. I like to think I’ve changed a few minds about the importance of trees in general, and about how careful planning is key to growing resilient community forestry programs.

These days I am heartened that our program is starting to address environmental justice issues. In partnership with communities and local stakeholders, our goal is to add trees where people need them most to boost social, environmental, and human health outcomes.

This year DNR has put forth legislation to reinvigorate (fund) the Evergreen Community Act. If successful, we will be able to target program investments to maximize co-benefits of trees including those that support human health, salmon recovery, and environmental justice. It will be a really nice “going away present” if the bill passes!

In my personal life I have to say I’m most proud of my two kiddos! They are both mindful of the responsibility we all have to care for our environment. Plus they are a ton of fun to be around!

Do you have any thoughts, reflections, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with the membership?

Never stop learning. Stay open to new ideas and integrate them into your work whenever possible. Social science research, including that by Dr. Kathleen Wolf from the University of Washington (my personal hero), has been instrumental in discovering how important trees are to human health and community livability.

Research on tree benefits provides arborists with unique ways to communicate about trees and engage decision-makers about the importance of investing in planning, planting and long-term maintenance.

It’s also good to have an “elevator speech”; a quick way to communicate about trees. I love the slogan “Trees are the Answer” – it begs the question, right? We can connect trees to just about everything but we’ve got to start with something simple and easy.

What can all of us, as chapter members, be doing better or differently to advance the case for trees in the Pacific Northwest?

I believe we all need to think of urban forest management at landscape scales. We need to remember that the urban forest ecosystem includes infrastructure and people as well as trees. We can integrate these components to create a resilient ecosystem, but it takes mindful planning and communication.

Whether approaching our work through a municipal, utility, or commercial arborist lens, it is important to practice and encourage best practices for planning, care and maintenance while communicating the benefits of trees.

I also think we need to engage the next generation and inspire them to love and respect trees. We need more young people in the industry, but we also need more voices advocating for investments in tree care.

You’ve a long and successful career but there’s a rumor you’re planning to retire in the not-too-distant future. Is this so? Would you mind telling us more about what lies ahead for you?

Yes. After March I am leaving full-time employment. It’s been an amazing career. From wildland forestry to urban forestry, I’ve loved the diversity of work, the challenges, and the people, as well as trees, that greeted me each day.

I actually feel like I’m graduating, not retiring, into a new life. My significant other and I are planning on many sailing adventures (this summer down the California coast – then, who knows?!). I’m looking forward to engaging in those things that interest me but which I’ve never “had time” to fully enjoy.