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Crow’s Nest: More snow & ice

February 8, 2014

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

The eastern red cedar behind the visitor center was the first casualty of the storm. Snow broke half of it one day, ice the other half the day after this photo was taken. It always made a nice focal point in the meadow to rest your eye upon while rocking on the porch…

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The snow settles in over the farm.

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Then, the ice. Here we are along Northside Road clearing branches and pruning trees to release them from being bent over. Some will rebound when the ice is gone. Some are broken and will not.

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The photo below was taken the second day after the ice storm. I’ve never seen ice persist on trees more than a day in southeastern Pennsylvania. Lovely, but damaging. It could have been far worse: we didn’t have high winds, the volume of ice could have been greater, and unlike the snowstorm of October 2012, most of the trees do not have leaves. Hard hit were young beech trees, ironwood, dogwood, sassafras, red maple, and to a lesser extent elm and ash. Also, Natural Lands Trust has a hazard tree management program on our preserves, so we had already pruned or removed trees that would have been most susceptible to damage.

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I believe some of the problems our region has experienced with power outages in recent years’ storms is due to landowners’ failure to recognize that all trees someday will fall—no exceptions. Over the last few decades trees have grown up around utility wires in places that would have been better managed as meadows or low-growing shrub lands. These lands should be low-maintenance areas, not zero-maintenance ones.

Of course the timing of tree failures cannot always be predicted, and we also have to recognize that more storms are likely on their way this winter.

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