Kentucky Division of Forestry
Kentucky Division of Forestry Assesses Damaged Trees

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, April 08, 2009  
Contact Information:  Lynn Brammer


Diana Olszowy or Lynn Brammer

Kentucky Division of Forestry Assesses Damaged Trees
Initial findings offer insight about ice-damaged trees

FRANKFORT, KY – (April 7, 2009) – Recent ice and wind storms in Kentucky have left landowners with questions about the extent of damage and what to do next.  The Kentucky Division of Forestry began an assessment of the damage in the state and has released their initial findings.
• Damage to woodlands is highly varied, and the division advises landowners not to panic and take action without a thorough review of the situation.  To the untrained eye, many woodlands appear to have more significant damage than they really have.  The amount of limbs and other woody debris on the forest floor is staggering and gives the appearance of devastation.  Damage seen along roads, fencerows and drainages is not indicative of the damage to woodlands.  Very often, the woodlands held up better than narrow bands of trees.  An assessment of damage by a trained professional forester is needed to evaluate the extent of damage to specific stands and provide guidance for the next management step.  Damage to woodlands ranged from limb breakage in the upper crowns of trees to entire sections of trees toppled from the heavy ice accumulation.  Areas of healthy trees, especially oaks were less affected than smaller pole-sized trees of softer hardwoods such as yellow-poplar and red maple.  No species or size of tree was exempt from damage in the hardest hit areas.

• The most widespread damage occurred in central Kentucky from Elizabethtown, west to the Missouri state line and north to the Ohio River.  Bands of severe damage were noted in Ballard, McCracken and Marshall counties and extended north and east toward Daviess County.  Storm damage lessened from Bowling Green south.  Isolated pockets of damage occurred in the Bluegrass, Northeastern and Eastern regions of the state.  Southeastern Kentucky was the least affected portion of the state.

• Trees in our cities suffered significant damage with Mayfield, Madisonville, Henderson and Paducah among the hardest hit.  The division, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, deployed urban forestry strike teams to assist these cities with the assessment work needed to identify hazardous trees, pruning needs and replacement trees.
•  As people continue to clean up and dispose of woody debris, the number of wildfires due to debris burning has significantly increased.  The added woody debris on the woodland floor causes fires to burn more intensely and has the potential to kill many of the trees in the fire’s path.  There have been three deaths due to woody debris burning mishaps this spring, so please make sure to follow proper fire safety and obey all applicable local and state laws and regulations.

• Safety in the woodlands is also an important issue this year.  Broken branches and limbs hanging in the tree tops pose a threat to anyone on the ground.  Even trees that are bent over have pressure on the stem and when released by cutting, the spring action of the stem can easily injure or kill the person trying to cut the tree.  When working in your woodland, make sure to look up, look down and all around to stay safe.

Contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry, a private consulting or industry forester, your local extension office, or other resource professional to obtain an assessment of the damage to your forest and get guidance on the next management step to improve the woodland.  For additional information on ice storm recovery, please visit the division’s Web page at