If your woods have suffered damage due to the recent storms, the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association (WWOA) is offering free resources to assist you in determining the next steps. WWOA’s website, https://wisconsinwoodlands.org/storm- damage/, offers a variety of information for woodland owners to consider before signing or agreeing to anything.
As a nonprofit, educational organization, established in 1979 for and by Wisconsin’s private woodland owners, WWOA offers a wealth of information to help woodland owners care for their land.
Determining the next steps for your woods is important and should be done as soon as possible without compromising the quality of service you expect from a contractor. Your decision will have implications now and for decades into the future so make sure you are selecting reputable Wisconsin firms to provide the work you need.
On the WWOA Resources page, https://wisconsinwoodlands.org/resources/, you can find a sample timber sale contract, links to the perfect forester for your land, and other resources to assist with storm damage cleanup.
Storm damage, while not always a pleasant experience, is a natural one. Damage from extreme weather events can be referred to as “disturbance” and is a naturally occurring aspect in most ecosystems. Active forest management and timber harvests in some ways, can replicate natural disturbance by creating canopy gaps that permit light to pass through and stimulate understory growth.
There are two main options (depending on the damage severity) that are outlined and expanded upon in the WI DNR publication, In the Face of Change.
The first is to leave things as is, allowing dead and damaged trees to decay and go through their natural process. By letting things go as is, a variety of new habitats for different wildlife species (which are often threatened/endangered) are created and nutrients are returned to the forest floor through decomposition.
The second is to do a salvage cut. By clearing out downed and damaged trees, the amount of forest floor and standing fuels are decreased, thereby reducing your risk of a devastating forest fire. Insects and disease also spread quickly between damaged trees. This may be through the cutting of firewood or working with a professional forester and logger to do a salvage harvest.
There is no right answer for any one woodland. Work with your forester and trusted natural resources professionals to decide what is best for you and your woodland. Even though you might feel rushed when handling storm damage on your property, make sure to take a deep breath, take a step back, and confirm that you are following all the needed steps to safely and responsibly manage your woodlands.
If you choose to cut your own trees, make sure you are proficient enough with chain saws to handle the job. Accidents happen when you try to rush. Remember that this is not your usual chainsaw work, there is a lot of tension on the twisted and fallen trees. If you are not confident in your ability to do something - DON'T! As previously mentioned, there are well-trained and experienced people ready to help you.
WWOA offers year-round educational opportunities for novice and experienced private woodland owners who want to improve the health of their woods. Learn more about WWOA by visiting our website at wisconsinwoodlands.org or for a free informational packet, contact WWOA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-346-4798.