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Making a Decision

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When storms damage woodlands and shade trees, woodland owners and homeowners have many questions about what to do with their damaged trees. The following outline provides guidelines for quick decision making and priority setting. No set of simple guidelines can fit all woodland, shade tree, storm, seasonal, and timber market conditions or the availability of harvesting resources.

Woodland owners and homeowners will unfortunately face situations where the removal of their damaged trees will be dangerous and expensive. Woodland owners should seek assistance from consulting foresters. Homeowners should seek assistance from certified arborists. To find a consulting forester or certified arborist in your area, contact your county Cooperative Extension office or NC Forest Service county office. Lists are also available online at the NC Forest Service Consulting Foresters page and the International Society of Arboriculture's Find an Arborist page.

In addition, many woodland owners will be attempting to sell their damaged trees before they spoil. As a result, harvesting and manufacturing firms will not be able to handle all of the available timber. Thus, priorities in salvaging damaged timber must be set.

When establishing priorities for salvaging storm damaged trees, the first and highest priority should be given to salvaging:

  1. The trees that have the highest potential product value (in most cases sawtimber and veneer);
  2. The trees that are the easiest to cut (groups of trees blown or felled in one direction);
  3. The trees that are the most perishable (in most cases sawtimber and veneer).

In order to minimize the costs in recovering storm damaged trees of mixed size, such as sawtimber and pulpwood, all salvageable product should be removed during the same operation.

Table 1 provides some decision making guidelines for storm damaged trees. Remember to seek advice of a professional when making decisions. For more information on storm recovery visit Resources for Storm Damage Recovery for Forest Landowners or contact Extension Forestry at 919-515-5638.

 

Table 1. Decision making guidelines for storm-­damaged trees.

Type of tree or stand of trees

Woodlands

Shade Trees

Wind-blown in one direction. Trunk not broken. Most roots out of ground.

Salvage as soon as possible for best product. In mixed stands, remove all merchantable timber.

Remove with caution. Split and use for firewood.

Large trees heavily skinned by flying debris. Trees standing or leaning less than 45 degree angle from vertical. At least 4 or more live limbs.

Salvage as soon as possible for best product. In mixed stands, remove all merchantable timber.

Remove. Split for firewood.

Trunk broken. 0-­3 live limbs.

Salvage for pulpwood if and when possible in next 6-­12 months. If salvage not possible: burn, site prepare, and reforest by simplest means.

Remove. Split for firewood.

Trunk broken. At least 4-­7 live limbs. Trunk not leaning. No root damage.

Can delay salvage for pulpwood or other management decision until later or better market conditions.

Tree should live. Remove broken branches and trim broken tops.

Wind-­blown in one direction. Trees leaning in less than a 45 degree angle from vertical. Most roots in ground. Trunk not broken. At least 4-­7 live limbs.

Can delay salvage for sawtimber or pulpwood or other management decision until later or better market conditions.

Tree should live. Remove all trees that pose hazard to people structures, utility lines, etc.

Large trees lightly skinned by flying debris. Trees standing or leaning less than 45 degree angle from vertical. At least 4 or more live limbs.

Can delay salvage or other management decisions until later or better market conditions.

Tree should live. Trim away loose bark.

Trees in jackstraw jumble.

Salvage if possible. Logging extremely hazardous. Site prepare and reforest by simplest means.

Remove with CAUTION. Split and use for firewood.

Small non-­merchantable trees skinned and broken by flying debris.

Site prepare and reforest by simplest means.

Remove. Plant new tree.

Authors

Associate Dean of Extension, Department Extension Leader & Professor
Forestry & Environmental Resources
Department Extension Leader - Specialist
Forestry & Environmental Resources

Publication date: Sept. 17, 2018

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