Monday, November 21, 2011

Snow-damaged forest

Over the weekend, I tried to take a few photos that show what the damage left by “Snowtober” looks like around my cabin. I’m not really happy with any of the photos but these will have to do. The real problem, I suspect, is that when I look around I can see the tops of trees and large branches on the ground everywhere, but when I take a photo you can only see a small portion of my view.

And it’s not just around my own cabin that’s damaged. Literally everywhere I go, I can see pale wood exposed and branches down where trees are broken. I stood in one spot at the top of the mountain yesterday and soon counted 16 trees with visible breaks. It’s going to take a long time before the forest looks “normal” again.

Small birds and animals will likely appreciate the sudden appearance of more cover. The downside of that is that the predators are probably going to be less successful in their hunting for a while. They aren’t going to have clear views and they’re going to have a lot of cover to search through to find anything uncautious enough to allow them to approach close enough for a kill.

Eventually, the branches will rot and create more soil for the woods. Rotting takes a long time, though. Perhaps 15 years ago, I was forced to cut down a large oak tree that loomed ominously over the cabin. I’d avoided taking down that beautiful, 125-year old tree for a few years, but a winter blizzard where the oak leaned precipitously during the gale-force winds that accompanied the storm finally convinced me I had no choice. The stump from that oak is still standing, if no longer as dense as it was originally.

The smaller branches and treetops from this storm will likely rot faster than a huge stump, but it still won’t be fast. I’ll be looking at this damage for years.


jeannette said...

From our PA friend we heard about the storm and snow -the damage everywhere is no laughing matter!

Cathy said...

It is a terrible shame to see that. I past trees on my walk and know they were damage by Oct'08 snowstorm or by Irene. They always reminds you, Nature always has the upper hand.

Grampy said...

Here in Kentucky we had an ice storm in 2009. The results looked much like what the snow did there. The trees here put out many sprouts to replace the broken tops. Any broken branches still attached managed to put on leaves the following spring. The trees still do not look normal with leaves off this fall. I have noticed late this summer that some of the heavily damaged trees are now dieing two years later. The jumbled mess on the forest floor is finally less noticeable. I worried about fires with all the dead limbs but we have been fortunate to not have had any.

Carolyn H said...

Grampy: This snowstorm produced more damage than any ice storm I've seen in the 20 years I've been here. And I've had a few doozy ice storms. The type of damage is much the same but this storm had at least double the damage. The snow didn't last any longer than the typical ice either, but it must have been even heavier.

I'm afraid that some of the trees will die, either weakened by the damage or from insects. Like you, I'm concerned about fire, though I don't think I'll have to worry about that until next year, so at least I have some time to clear the damage around the cabin.

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: Yes, grandmother Nature always has the upper hand. I try not to forget that.

Carolyn H said...

Jeannette: It will take many years for this damage to be absorbed into the forest.