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Goshen Residents Discuss Ice Damage

By BEN STORROW Gazette Contributing Writer

Download Gazette PDF(123 KB)

Download PDF(123 KB)

GOSHEN – Goshen residents continued to pick through the damage left by the December ice storm Thursday night, as they heard from a panel of experts on how to deal with the destruction of trees on their property.

“Ice and wind are a natural, healthy part of our forest,” Paul Catanazaro, a forest resource specialist at the University of Massachusetts, explained to the crowd at Town Hall. “I get a lot of a calls and emails saying: ‘My woods are ruined.'”

But he said: “Realize, that ecologically speaking this is an OK thing.”

Catanazaro noted that the storm, in breaking and knocking down trees, was actually creating habitat that resembled the old growth forests native to New England. Downed trees allow for more light to reach the forest floor, he said, while fallen logs provided good habitat for wildlife.

The majority of Catanazaro’s presentation focused on how homeowners could assess and deal with the damage to trees on their property. He said a tree’s crown, or canopy, was one of the best methods of determining its health.

“If 0 to 50 percent of the crown was lost,” Catanazaro explained, “then the tree is likely OK. Fifty to 75 percent loss is a significant shock to a tree and its recovery is on the line.” He said that if a tree had lost more than 75 percent of its crown, it most likely would not recover.

While Catanazaro said leaving the fallen trees was a good option – especially for those concerned about wildlife habitat – he noted that salvaging timber was an alternative, depending on the number and quality of the trees fallen on one particular property.

Generally speaking, he said, someone with less than 10 acres should seek a certified arborist while homeowners who had between 10 and 30 acres should find timber harvesters to salvage any fallen logs. Those with larger parcels of land greater than 30 acres should seek out a certified forester, Catanazaro advised.

Catanazaro also pointed residents to a Web site he maintains, www.masswoods.net, which offers contact information for state and private foresters, as well as local land trusts and other organizations that can help residents deal with tree damage in their area.

Residents also heard from Chesterfield arborist Jim McSweeney, who offered advice on what options homeowners have for saving or pruning trees near their homes. McSweeney noted that he used three categories for determining the chance of a restoring a damaged tree: crown loss, and trunk and root damage.

Goshen town officials also spoke to the crowd updating them on the continuing cleanup efforts. Bob Goss, town tree warden, said that he and a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency had counted 600 trees that need to be pruned along roadsides. Goss said the town’s tree warden budget was $2,000, but hoped that some federal assistance might be available for tree removal. Larry Holmberg, Goshen emergency management director, said the town had submitted a preliminary request of about $56,000 to the federal government for the damages incurred during the emergency event. He said a second application, concerning the cleanup of remaining debris, was forthcoming and estimated the tab to be somewhere near $100,000.

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