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Giant Spade
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If you have an environment or "green" story you would like to see us cover, drop me a line at andy.parker@wgrz.com or in my blog.

Many people still have holes in their landscape after the October Storm, but now there's a way to get a jump on rebuilding what the storm took away. Meteorologist Andy Parker explains.

Ever since the devastation of the October storm, people in WNY look at trees a little differently. Call it a closer connection or more of an appreciation for these decades old arbors that stand watch through our four seasons and sometimes over a lifetime.

The option for replacing trees lost to the storm has been to replant with saplings and waiting years for regrowth. That is until now.

John Lieble is a 3rd generation arborist who saw the need for speed when it comes to tree replacement. His passion led him to purchase the largest spade on wheels this side of Syracuse in order to allow WNYers the opportunity to replace what the storm has taken away.

"If your 60 years old and you want a 35 year old tree we can bring it tomorrow and you don't have to wait until you're 95."

Prior to the giant spade, aptly named big john, getting a 30 year 40 foot tree was almost impossible. But John says after feeding the tree a mix of nutrients moving one of this size is a safe process.

The spades never really lift and no oxygen gets around the roots and the ball isn't allowed to get distorted and dirt doesn't break away from the roots and it's a lot healthier practice.

The effort begins with the careful positioning of the truck where accuracy is imperative perfectly centering the tree within the grasp of the spade.

John then deftly works the hydraulics sending the powerful blades slicing into the ground severing roots, providing stability and keeping the base of the tree together.

Once the spade has a hold on the root system the hydraulics again performs the heavy lifting as the tree and dirt around it are easily lifted from the ground.

The tall maple is then gently tipped on its side where john and his staff wrap the branches with a tarp for transportation.

At this point the mature tree is ready to roll down the road to its new location.

While the trip may be several miles or several hours, the process of putting it in the ground goes quick.

We back it up hopefully in the same spot and drop it in the old hole.

It's all setting the spade. As long as we back it the spade will drop it in the same hole as it was.

It's basically a reverse process putting the plug back in the ground except this time there's a tree in it.

Watching a mature tree being pulled from the ground and driven away isn't something you see every day and always draws a crowd.

As you're going down the road you get a lot of rubber necking. People looking non-stop about what you're hauling.
of kids and adults, who is more interested? I think adults. Kids seem to think it's a rocket launcher.

One of John's most memorable jobs was here on the Buffalo Waterfront where he took pride in saving all the trees along this path for future generations to enjoy.

It was great to take trees that were unharmed by the October Storm right on the waterfront and move them into a park were there weren't any trees. We got a lot of compliments everyday we went to work.

And fortunately for WNY, john and his giant spade will be making a difference one tree at a time for years to come. Meteorologist Andy Parker, Channel 2 News.

To learn more about tree transplanting check out:
Wiki on Tree Transplanting
or
Heritage Tree Care & Nursery