By Billy Beck–Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
AMES, Iowa – As Iowans continue storm cleanup following the derecho, resources are available to help assess the damage to trees and keep equipment operators safe.
“As safely as you can, get a really good assessment of the degree of damage, take notes and map it out,” said Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Safety should come first, according to Beck, who said that storm-damaged trees can be especially dangerous.
“Cutting trees and logging in general is dangerous, and now if you have trees that are twisted, entangled, or under pressure, it’s extremely dangerous,” he said.
Chain saw operators should wear the proper protective gear, which includes safety chaps and head, eye, and ear protection. The main thing is to “know your skill limit,” Beck said, and don’t be afraid to ask for help with a job that is more dangerous or that requires a professional.
A certified arborist can provide consulting, pruning, and removal as needed. A statewide, county-level list of certified arborists is available.
Those with forests may wish to contact a district forester with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or a private industry forester.
The Natural Resources Stewardship team with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is compiling a list of resources to help.
The list includes the extension article “Managing Storm Damaged Woodlands”, and the extension publication “Managing Storm-Damaged Trees in the Sustainable Urban Landscapes Series.”
It’s also important for Iowans to think ahead and find ways to prevent future tree-related storm damage. A lot of the damage from the Aug. 10 storm probably could have been prevented if damaged trees had been removed or properly pruned and if the trees were more diverse.
In a blog post called “Derecho lessons regarding trees, windbreaks, and woodlands,” he offers advice on how to make trees and forests more resilient in the future, followed by additional storm recovery resources.
If you believe your property has been damaged by trees, you should consult your insurance agent, as policies differ by individual and the type of property insured.
For more information, Beck can be reached at 515-294-8837 or [email protected].