Decision Making Guidelines for Storm-Damaged Trees

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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 Division of Forest Resources county office. Lists are also available online at Consulting Foresters 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.

Robert Bardon
Rick Hamilton
NC Coorporative Extension