Forest landowners in the South Sound experienced significant damage from the January snow and ice storm. Now that property owners have taken care of immediate needs around their homes, they are beginning to assess the damage to their forests. Damage reported so far seems to be concentrated in Thurston County, but damage also occurred in the adjoining Lewis, Grays Harbor, Pierce, and Mason counties. Reports from landowners suggest the damage is worse in hardwood stands and young conifer plantations, with the most severe damage occurring in the 14 to 25 year age class range. It may comfort you to know the conifer will not die as a result of this damage, but will produce a new leader. However, hardwood damage could be more severe. If your alder stand is of merchantable size and had significant top damage, you may want to consider harvesting it in the next one to two years. Alder will start to rot from the broken top down and a stand may begin to break apart as result of the storm.
It is important to take the time to assess the extent of the damage with professional input to determine the course of action that best addresses the problem and meet your management objectives. Starting over is a very expensive proposition. Mike Nystrom, our Stewardship Forester, has begun to help landowners assess their damage on a request basis and he can help you decide which trees you can maintain and which should be removed. Please feel free to contact Mike to schedule a visit at 360-902-2903 or on his cell phone at 360-742-8506.
We would also like to hear from you about damage that occurred in your forest. Please send storm damage information and any photos or stories you would like to share to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for more storm updates, guidance, and recommendations on how to manage your forest after the storm in our next Small Forest Landowner News.