There are a number of factors that increase the likelihood of a tree dropping a branch or toppling over, including blights, fungal infections or damage from bugs. Damaged limbs may fall during strong winds or heavy ice, but they can fall on a calm, sunny day when campers are crowded around a tree's base. Poorly managed forests also intensify the damage a wildfire will cause. Though falling limbs may seem like an act of God, a well-trained eye can evaluate tree health and identify potential dangers. Then, your management team can act to remove the dangers and preventtragedies before they happen.
Here are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood trees cause harm to your campers, members, guests, staff or buildings:
Consult with a professional arborist - We recommend having a professional arborist come check your trees for potential hazards every three years at a minimum, as well as after any severe weather event that might have damaged the trees. You can use the International Society of Arboriculture's website to search for a certified arborist near you.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, many community colleges and state universities offer training in arboriculture. The students in these courses are often keen to apply what they are learning, and may be willing to do a consultation at a reduced price or even free of charge in exchange for the valuable experience this offers them.
Use trusted tree care professionals - Removing a hazard can sometimes cause as much damage as the hazard itself. Ask your arborist for recommendations for quality tree care professionals and be sure they have insurance before they begin working. If they remove a limb or a section of a tree, have the arborist come back after the job is complete to check the tree for infection or other irregularities.
Be prepared for wildfires - Even in areas without a history of wildfires, severe droughts can make any region susceptible. Prepare for wildfires before their outbreak. Request a visit from your local forest service to evaluate your property and provide guidance in reducing or eliminating a fires' spread. Also, invite your local fire department for a tour of your facilities. If the risk of fire is elevated, educate staff and campers about the potential dangers and clear brush off of your forest floor.
Create Resilient Protocols - When trees fall in severe weather events, they often bring down power lines and make communication challenging. Have a plan in place for such situations and review it with staff prior to severe weather or storms.
Document preventative action - If tragedy does strike, you will want to show that you took every measure possible to reduce the likelihood of an incident. Record the date of consultations, as well as detailed accounts of any action taken.
Trees offer much needed shade in the summer time, they are vital for wildlife and ecosystem health, and spending time in the woods is important for childhood development, too. Working with experienced arborists and tree care professionals will allow you to identify and remove hazards before they become tragedies, and still care for these crucially important assets.