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Storm Damage to Forests

Finding Help

Managing storm damaged woods [PDF] (adapted by William Klase, UWEX Educator).

Help from professional foresters

Here are a few tips to consider when dealing with independent contractors.

  • Get references from other landowners that have worked with the forester or logger you are thinking of dealing with. Visit previous logging jobs if possible.
  • Get a contract that is designed to protect your interests. Review the contract before signing it.
  • During the harvest, stay out of harm's way but make yourself visible. Ask questions of the logger. Be careful not to interfere with the logging operation, but your presence and interest (or oversight from a cooperating forester) can help assure the job is done right.
  • Work with loggers who are properly trained in logging safety and Wisconsin best management practices. If available in your area, consider contracting with a Wisconsin certified master logger or an SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative) qualified logger.
  • Read Beware of Timber Theft and Fraud [PDF].

Most landowners will benefit from the assistance of a qualified forester in determining the cutting specifications and marketing of their wood. Foresters are available to assist in all aspects of the salvage and beyond. If your woodlot has scattered damage, you may wish to have a forester examine it to determine if additional trees should be marked for harvest along with the salvage.

Contracting directly with a logger

Should you choose to forego the help of a professional forester and contract directly with a logger, this information and sample timber sale contract are available for use.

Yard tree services

For help dealing with hazardous yard trees, contact a trained arborist [exit DNR] (i.e., tree service company) who specializes in pruning, removal and other hazard tree mitigation work.

Submitting cutting notices

Prior to any harvesting, you must file a county cutting notice with your county clerk’s office. Removal of forest products from tax delinquent lands is not allowed. Coordinate with your consulting forester or logger to determine who will complete this form. Contact your county clerk’s office or visit their website to obtain a form.

If your property is in the Managed Forest Law (MFL) or Forest Crop Law (FCL) program, a cutting notice [PDF] must be submitted to your DNR forester 30 days before cutting begins. The DNR forester will review the proposed cutting to ensure it is consistent with sound forest management prior to approval. Other mandatory practices may be revised by mutual consent of the landowner and the DNR as a result of silvicultural requirements, catastrophic occurrence or other changing conditions. If liquidating a stand because of catastrophic loss, the DNR can assist you in meeting the requirements of the MFL and FCL.

Salvage harvesting guidance

Many resources are available to landowners, foresters and loggers to responsibly harvest woodlands in Wisconsin. Given the widespread damage, however, some generally accepted forestry practices will not be applicable or consistent with management goals following a storm. Here are some of the common resources people rely on for forest management information and examples of modifications that may be necessary.

Invasive species - best management practices

Invasive species thrive with disturbance and are easily moved on equipment during any recovery activity. Forestry best management practices (BMPs) for invasive species provide considerations for harvesting timber without promoting the spread of invasive plants, pests or diseases. This manual was developed offering many options to choose from so your practices fit the situation. It is critical to consider invasive species during recovery to minimize the spread and ensure that recovery will happen efficiently. More information on forestry BMPs for invasive species can be found on the Wisconsin Council on Forestry website [exit DNR].

Water quality - best management practices

Forestry best management practices for water quality can provide guidance on methods to harvest timber that protect water quality. Given widespread damage, some BMPs may not be applicable to salvage operations. For instance, the BMPs recommend maintaining 60 square feet of basal area per acre in riparian management zones (RMZs). However, there may not be that much standing timber left following a blowdown. In those instances, it will not be possible to meet that BMP. Read more about forestry BMPs for water quality [PDF].

Biomass harvesting guidelines

Biomass harvesting guidelines (BHGs) are used when the whole tree is harvested. In general, it is desirable to retain a certain amount of tree tops and limbs on site to provide wildlife habitat and protect soil nutrient levels. However, given the nature and location of the storm, it is recommended that for salvage operations the entire damaged tree be harvested to lower the risk of wildfire and prevent insect outbreaks. The BHGs recognize that under certain circumstances, retaining woody material on site may not be consistent with management objectives (in this case, lowering wildfire risks and preventing insect infestations). More information on biomass harvesting guidelines can be found on the Wisconsin Council on Forestry website [exit DNR].


Contact your County Emergency Management office to obtain more information related to personal safety during the storm recovery process.