In Wake of Major Storms, Environmentalists Speak for the Trees

After snow, wind and rain storms have wreaked havoc on our trees, environmentalists recommend we replant them in a thoughtful and cost-effective manner.

In the hours and days following a major snow storm or hurricane, the first wave of news coverage is about falling limbs causing power outages and snapped branches landing on homes, cars and even people.

The human impact will always be story number-one—but now, more than a week after the freak snow storm that caused a nearly unprecedented amount of damage in the Hudson Valley—it's time to look at the damage to the trees themselves.

"Trees are critical to maintaining our quality of life, storm water management and air-quality-protection," said Anne Jaffe-Holmes, Coordinator of Environmental Projects for Scarsdale's Greenburgh Nature Center. "Street trees especially have been hard hit from recent storms and municipalities need to think about replacing them in a manner that's intelligent and cost-effective."

Much conversation has focused on burying power lines so tree limbs don't sever them and cut off electricity—"While I would love to see the lines underground as soon as possible, that will be a lengthy and expensive project," Jaffe-Holmes continued. "For now, we need to think more about which trees to plant and where to plant them."

Arborist Guy Pardee, who works at The Care of Trees' Elmsford office, agreed that both municipalities and residents need to think about planting trees native to the area.

Unfortunately, Pardee said, there's no specific type of native tree that's hardier, or better equipped to withstand the area's volatile weather than others.

"The recent snow storm was hardest on large, deciduous trees that still had their leaves," Pardee said. "Wind storms tend to affect evergreens more than other kinds of trees."

In deciding whether a tree can be saved after a major storm, Pardee said safety is always the first concern.

"I suggest bringing in a certified arborist to evaluate the tree," Pardee said. "There are often steps you can take to save trees that have lost limbs like keeping soil moist, re-fertilization and being proactive about disease and pest management."

He also recommends having an arborist evaluate the health of your trees before winter weather sends brittle limbs through your roof and into your living room.

"Trimming and installing cables can go a long way," Pardee said.

Planting new trees is always a priority. Jaffe-Holmes said the Greenburgh Nature Center plans to host workshops for municipalities offering instructions on which trees to plant and how and where to plant them.

"Replacing trees can be very expensive," she said. "So municipalities should want their trees to last as long as possible."

Besides purifying air, providing shade and housing wildlife, Jaffe-Holmes stressed trees' role in elevating our quality of life here in the Hudson Valley.

"People move here not just because it's close to New York City, but because it's beautiful," Jaffe-Holmes said. "And it's beautiful because generations before us have protected our natural landscape and our trees."


Save-A-Tree: The Tree and Shrub Care Company

The Care of Trees

The Greenburgh Nature Center

ISA: International Society of Arboriculture

Plant Native (Plantnative.org)

Dan Thaler November 09, 2011 at 01:16 AM
Yes, I've read about this. Sounds good to me.
Don Pachner November 09, 2011 at 12:31 PM
The NY state Dept of Environ Conservation used to have a nursery and gave away trees to municipalities, but it has closed down due to budget cuts. According an informal personal survey, not many trees were downed by the recent October snowstorm, but they lost many large branches. the only reason to replace them would be aesthetics. Anyone who has hiked in the forest or mountains in our region has seen many healthy trees that have been damaged at one time or another during their long lives.. Let's not cloak a campaign for municipal aesthetics in unnecessary tree plantings, when the trees we have are just fine except in the human eye. I don't think that Joyce Kilme's poem about the beauty of trees told us they had to be perfect trees to be lovely. P.S. The misguided comments in favor of nuclear power.ignore the fact that we can't deal wirth the nuclear waste, and it could poison our drinking water for thousands of years. Indian Point has not been able to account for hundreds or thousands of gallons of high level nuclear waste that has apparently leaked into the ground and/or the Hudson River prior to recent removal and storage in concrete & steel caskets,
Francis T McVetty November 09, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Don, [hundreds or thousands of gallons of high level nuclear waste] show me the proof that this in fact has happened !!! No more "riverkeeper" figures either.
Francis T McVetty November 09, 2011 at 01:31 PM
It is time to trim these trees back. If it comes down to having electricity or the aesthetics of trees, I think I know which one I would pick. How about you?
Rob DeRocker November 10, 2011 at 12:39 PM
At the very least I would hope the Village Planning Boards and other officials are even more vigilant in protecting the surviving trees -- especially those that will never jeopardize power lines -- from rampant development.


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