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."
Plant Native (Plantnative.org)