When The Storm Comes: 5 Tools Landowners Can Use to Support Strong, Sustainable Forests

By Keith Thompson, Private Lands Program Manager for Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

The winds we saw at the end of October this year damaged a lot of trees throughout the state. Our forests have always experienced these kinds of events and with climate change we can expect to see them more frequently.  In 2010, another major windstorm toppled trees throughout Chittenden County.  For landowners whose woodlots were hardest hit, the impacts in the forest were heartbreaking. While wind damage is a natural part of our forests, we often mistakenly view the conditions of the forests we love as static. This not the case and disturbances like windstorms remind us of this in dramatic ways. But if there’s one thing we can depend on, it’s the resiliency of Vermont’s healthy forests.

Trees damaged by wind often survive, and trees killed by wind are replaced by new trees. One example of forest resiliency and recovery was in the Hinesburg Town Forest. This forest saw the largest concentrated area of blowdown in the 2010 storm, with more than 30 contiguous acres leveled by the storm. Some of the toppled trees were salvaged and sold as sawtimber. Much of the area was left to naturally regenerate back to forest where the toppled trees remain today. In 2017 the blown down area is bouncing back as illustrated in these pictures showing many of the same trees 6 years later.

Forest Resiliency Resources:

If your land or a place you love was hit hard by recent winds, these landscapes will bounce back. ANR’s Forests, Parks, and Recreation Department has a tremendous amount scientific research and resources available to property owners interested in developing forest resiliency on their land. FPR can connect property owners to county foresters who work in the best interest of you and your forest. Here are a few science-based resources landowners can use to understand, and develop stronger, more sustainable forests on their property

1.       For guidance on a salvage or a timber harvest check out www.VTcutWithConfidence.com

2.       Download the Landowner’s Guides to a Successful Timber Harvest

3.       Check out info from Vermont’s Forest Health Program

4.        Creating and Maintaining Resilient Forests         

5.       Find your County Forester