Storm Damage

What do you do after your woodlands experience unexpected storm damage?

Storm damage, while not always a pleasant experience, is a natural one. Damage from extreme weather events can be referred to as “disturbance”, and is a naturally occurring aspect in most ecosystems. Active forest management and timber harvests, in some ways, can replicate natural disturbance by creating canopy gaps that permit light to pass through and stimulate understory growth.

After the sweep of storms across Wisconsin this Spring, you may have experienced a bit of damage to your woodlands. Now what do you do? There are two main options (depending on the damage severity) that are outlined and expanded upon in the DNR publication, In the Face of Change.

The first is to leave things as is, allowing dead and damaged trees to decay and go through their natural process. By letting things go as is, a variety of new habitats for different wildlife species (which are often threatened/endangered) are created and nutrients are returned to the forest floor as decomposition progresses.

The second is to do a salvage harvest. By clearing out downed and damaged trees, the amount of forest floor and standing fuels are decreased, thereby reducing your risk of a devastating forest fire. Insects and disease also spread quickly between damaged trees.

There is no right answer for any one woodland. Work with your forester and trusted natural resources professionals to decide what is best for you and your woodland.

You might also consider revisiting an article featured in the 2008 Summer issue of Woodland Management¬†Magazine (now Wisconsin Woodlands)¬†titled “Do you have storm damage in your woodlands?” written by Jane Cummings Carlson for some additional tips and ideas on how to handle storm damaged property.