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Key Partner Spotlight: Arborist Aboard

By: Deanna Corarito

Director, KCA

I met Mark Hughes at a recent KCA meeting (remember those?) and what struck me is what a fun, real and approachable guy he is. Great! But get him talking about trees… and it becomes clear that he has an intense depth of knowledge. He also really loves trees.

Mark comes from a family of tree workers and has been doing tree work for 20 years and decided to go out on his own in 2005. About the same time, he also became an ISA Certified Arborist. Arborist Aboard, the company he started has a specialized crew with, by my calculation over 100 years of tree experience between them all. Included amongst the certified arborists is Tom Konar who is also a plant pathologist with a degree in plant science and protection from Rutgers University who studies the diseases in plants caused by pathogens (infectious organisms) and environmental conditions as well as debunking some older general tree standards. Add in Mark’s certification in TRAQ, which stands for Tree Risk Assessment Qualification, an advanced program developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) in 2013 and you have an alphabet soup of credentials that make Arborist Aboard a premier tree care service.

Of all the services that they provide, assessing a tree to see if it can be preserved was most important to me. I am a tree lover and believe that the world needs more trees, not less. But sometimes there are circumstances when removal is the right choice, as was the case on our own property. We had an older tree that was pushing up against our barn and hanging over our studio. This was a case when removal was the best option, but it was in such a tight space, on the property line with our neighbor and seemed accessible more easily from his property because of where our septic tank is. Arborist Aboard came out with a crane that only required about 15 feet of space and they very easily cut, removed and cleaned up within 2 hours. It was impressive. Though it was not needed for our removal job, Mark tells me they have “specialized synthetic yard mats for protection when doing work to prevent your yard from looking like “Godzilla walked over it.” He is proud that over the years he has invested in industry specific equipment like the high cost mini-lifts to get into tight places and back yards that minimize turf impact.

Mark is also a Keystone resident; he grew up in Northwest Hillsborough county and has fond memories of fishing at Lake Rogers. When he decided to buy a home, after several weeks he was exhausted by his home search efforts and had given up looking for a home to purchase in the area, when he drove by Vivian Bass way and saw a For Sale by Owner sign. It was meant to be as the seller had just put the sign out the night before. The house that was built the same year Mark was born was his! He loves living in Keystone and likens his neighbors to a “family” that hangs out together.

Arborist Aboard does trimming, removal, risk-assessment and plant health care treatments with an emphasis of “not only mechanics, but the biology and science of arbor culture.” Mark is impressed with the arbor culture work happening in Europe, remarking that they are combatting common cultural beliefs of tree care. It sounds like cutting-edge science right here in Keystone too. Mark says they even use a GPS Inventory System for larger properties including commercial, where they map out the trees on Google Maps. This creates a pinpoint for each tree on the map, including tree variety and diagnostics/protocol for tree care. Mark also mentioned their ‘Biosecurity Efforts’; they are still developing the program but are actively implementing and executing it now. This prevents unnecessary spread and introduction of harmful organisms, which might include pests, pathogens or invasive species. They are also one of fifteen self-certified arborists for the City of Tampa’s SCA program.

This is a great time of year to take a look at trees that are of concern before the beginning of hurricane season, which begins June 1. More information can be found at their website, and Mark says to be sure and look for new updates to their website soon.

Arborist Aboard can be reached at: Office: 813-920-4410 or Mobile: 813-469-0808.
Affiliations & Certifications
• ISA certified Arborist and FL chapter member – FL-5367A-
• CCO certified crane operator –
• A rated with BBB
• A rated with Angie’s List
• Contributor to Metro Ministries, WWP, ST. Jude’s, Shriners and Feeding America Tampa Bay

April 2020
1. Timeline of Keystone Park Improvements
2. Key Partner Spotlight: Arborist Aboard
3. County Land Deal add 500 plus Acres to Conservation Land in Keystone