N.C. Forest Service urges caution in woodland damage assessment


RALEIGH — The N.C. Forest Service encourages landowners and others to exercise caution when assessing damage to their woodlands and urban trees from recent storms. Landowners that are concerned about the health of their woodlands should seek advice from their county ranger.

“Very often, woodlands that appear to have been severely damaged can recover.  Landowners should be fully informed prior to making any significant decisions about their trees,” said David Lane, state forester. “Yard and urban trees that are damaged may be able to have their health and beauty restored with pruning and selective care. If the basic structure of a tree is intact, it may be in an owner’s best interest to save the tree.”

 Tree topping isnota viable solution for storm-damage recovery. The sprouts that occur after tree topping are fast-growing, weakly attached branches that are more likely to break off in future storms, Lane said. If landowners are concerned about the health of their trees, contact a certified arborist to assess tree health and structural integrity.

“Most tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in and around trees,” Lane said. “Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained to provide proper care.”

Extra care should also be taken if burning storm debris. Careless burning of debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina. With the potential for many downed trees and branches, landowners may be tempted to burn. There are many factors to consider before burning any debris. County forest rangers can provide technical advice, current weather conditions and explain the best options to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest.

Check local laws on debris burning prior to striking a match. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours, while others forbid it entirely. Be sure to check the weather. Don’t burn on dry, windy days, and consider alternatives to burning. Some types of debris, such as leaves, grass and stubble, may be of more value if used for compost. It is always illegal to burn household trash or any other non-vegetative matter.

Contact your county forest ranger for the names and locations of the nearest burning permit agent, or obtain one online at http://ncforestservice.gov. Permits are free.

People who choose to do their own cleanup after a storm should work with a partner, particularly when operating equipment such as chain saws. If you are not familiar with chain saws, consult a professional. For more advice on chain saw safety, go to http://ncforestservice.gov and follow the links under “Managing Your Forest” to the “Safety Considerations” section.

If you choose to hire a local tree company, most will note their professional affiliation in their advertisement.

The following online resources may be helpful following storms that cause tree damage:

For information about certified arborists in your area:

For more information and advice on proper tree care and tree assessment:

For chain saw safety tips:

   For guidance on assessing woodland health and tree recovery

  • http://ncforestservice.gov; click on the “Recovering From Storms and Fires” link under the “Managing Your Forest” section.