Dedication, cooperation, an easygoing work style and a love for trees is what the County of San Mateo’s new arborist says he brings to the job.

A transplant to San Mateo County from Chicago, Dan Krug began his post as County arborist Feb. 12, 2018, and will split his time between the Parks and Planning & Building departments.

“I am extremely enthusiastic to join the County of San Mateo and use my skills to assist in managing risk for the Parks Department and provide in-office training opportunities,” Krug said.

Krug will also advise the Planning & Building Department in its review of tree removal permits and its update of existing tree removal regulations. Duties include helping Planning & Building enforce tree protection requirements and monitor the success of tree planting and maintenance efforts. 

Dividing time and expertise between the two departments is a great example of how County departments work together and share resources, said San Mateo County Parks Director Jonathan Gervais.

The No. 1 item on Krug’s to-do list is implementing an arborist report standard which will focus on the level of detail required of a tree assessment for approval of a tree removal application. 

“This process will involve arborist report standards involving elective tree removal, removal due to development, or due to health,” he said.

Planning & Building Director Steve Monowitz says they look forward to having on staff an arborist like Krug with his bachelor’s degree in forestry and extensive experience in all aspects of tree management.

“Dan will be able to offer his expertise to land owners and managers in order to help them make decisions and take actions that support the long-term health and enhancement of the County’s urban, rural, and open space environments,” Monowitz said.

Krug worked as a professional arborist for the past 11 years, and assisting Chicago-area residents in understanding their trees’ health and structure and introducing strategies to preserve tree canopy. 

In his former role as the assistant manager for the largest residential tree care firm in Chicago, he provided tree risk assessments for individual or groups of trees on private property to decide best management practices to mitigate tree hazards or removals.

Favorite trees include coastal redwood: “I have always been fascinated with coastal redwood (Sequia sempervirens) but had never seen one in person until just before working for the County.”

He appreciates how they are so “incredibly adaptable to their environment” and are “capable of withstanding dynamic environmental extremes such as wind, flood and fire damage,” he said. “I have quickly grown a genuine love for these trees over the past month working for the County.”

Another favorite tree is the Norway spruce (Picea abies), “a tree which is remarkably beautiful when grown in full sunlight conditions,” he said. “The branches sweep to the ground and bow back toward the sky near the tips which produce a ‘skirt’ unmatched by other spruce species. When Norway spruce are snow covered it is truly a thing of beauty.”

When it comes to potential tree risks in our parks, Krug says the volume of visitation to the parks can dictate our perception of what level risk is acceptable.

“There are many high-use parks and trails within the parks system which garner the greatest attention by the public due to ease of access and the amenities of the park,” he said. “Although these areas provide a greater perceived risk some of the mid- to infrequent-use areas may have some of the riskier areas as our staff may not be able to evaluate every tree. We must always take into account that trees are living things which are impacted by the environment around them and are subject to pests, disease, and impact from human intervention, both intentional and accidental.”

Krug says he’s excited about relocating to the Bay Area with his wife and two boys, and is looking forward to spending time outside with them as much as possible whether visiting parks and beaches, hiking or cycling — and just enjoying the trees.