This guest post comes from Kevin Zobrist, WSU Area Extension Educator, Forest Stewardship serving Snohomish, Skagit, King, and Island Counties.
One of the most pressing issues for trees as we start the new year is the impact from January storms. Between snow loads, freezing rain, and wind, area forests got beat up pretty good. Right now many people are dealing with downed or damaged trees.
As you begin to assess damage, my first word of advice is to not panic. With so much damage, lengthy power outages, etc., people tend to react to storms like this based on frustration, fear, and other emotions, and end up doing more damage to their property (and enjoyment thereof) than needed to reasonable address risks and hazards.
Please be safe and do not ever approach downed lines of any kind (don’t ever assume it’s just a communication or otherwise non-energized line…) or the “target zone” of any suspended tree or limb that appears in imminent danger of falling. Meanwhile, take a deep breath and do a careful clean-up and assessment. If you need to hire someone to assess, apply first aid, or remove a storm-damaged tree, please choose an ISA-certified arborist (but keep in mind that those folks are stretched thin for the immediate future). There are plenty of “services” running around with chainsaws out there that may not meet your needs.
Tree first aid information from the Oregon Department of Forestry, via WA DNR
Assessing damaged trees
ISA website with a directory of certified arborists
Storm damage like this is natural and is part of the ecology of our forests. This doesn’t make the damage less difficult to deal with, though, and the damage almost always conflicts with management objectives. Keeping these objectives at the forefront of your mind (aesthetics, enjoyment, habitat, etc.) will help you make proactive (rather than reactive) decisions about your woodland as you steward its recovery. The good news is that nature is resilient (and you are, too!). It is OK to grieve a little in the meantime, though.