My Town: Steve Houser
Published April 19, 2009 By PAIGE PHELPS
Steve Houser, 49, can climb a 50-foot tree and ring a bell faster than you can. He can also perform aerial rescues for injured climbers and move with ease to suspended workstations balanced on branches, all while carrying a chain saw in one hand. Now you see why the International Society of Arboriculture Texas Tree Climbing Championship features the Steve Houser Award for Excellence, known to arborists simply as the coveted Houser Cup.
But Houser didn't fall in love with trees to win awards and conquer the tallest bough. The Dallas native, who has always felt a connection to nature, put himself through college 30 years ago caring for trees while studying arboriculture.
These days Houser hits the office around 6 a.m. and doesn't leave until 7 or 8 at night in his work as Dallas' Urban Forest Advisory Committee chair. Day in and day out, his mission is to educate the citizens of Dallas about tree conservation, forest-management practices and ways to preserve our delicate native ecosystems.
How does Dallas compare to other urban environments?
Dallas is blessed to have the largest bottomland hardwood forest in America. We also have larger trees in Oak Cliff and East Dallas with a few in the northern sections. However, we could use more trees in our street medians. As compared to others in the country, our urban forest is above average but far from ideal.
What do you think needs to be done to better manage our natural resources?
The City of Dallas Urban Forest Advisory Committee completed a strategic plan for urban forestry initiatives that details a multifaceted approach to future forest management. Our highest priorities are establishing a division or office of urban forestry and the completion of a tree inventory.
What's your favorite part of Dallas (or surrounding metro area) and why?
My favorite parts of Dallas are the parks due to the variance in forest ecosystems and wildlife inhabitants. Reverchon Park is where I hang out most because it is named after an early area botanist, plus I worked with Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and the community for over 10 years in park-restoration efforts. I also chase squirrels up the trees in Turtle Creek, Katy Trail, White Rock Lake and more recently, the new Audubon Center.
When you are out on the town, where do you like to head?
When I am out on the town, I can be found in a Mexican-food restaurant, like Mario & Alberto, or one of the cool places noted above.
Reverchon Park: 3505 Maple Ave.
Trinity River Audubon Center: 6500 S. Loop 12, 214-398-8722,
Mario & Alberto Restaurant: 300 N Coit Road, Richardson 972-234-4560