STORMWISE: Integrating Arboriculture and Silviculture to Create Storm Resilient Roadside Forests


Jeffrey S. Ward, Thomas E. Worthley, Thomas J. Degnan, and Joseph P. Barsky

Chief Scientist (JSW), Dept of Forestry and Horticulture, 123 Huntington Street, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT 06511; Associate Extension Professor (TEW), Cooperative Extension, 1066 Saybrook Rd, Haddam, CT 06438; Senior Environmental Scientist (TJD), ES&P, 108 Leigus Road, Wallingford, CT 06492; Agricultural Research Technician (JPB), Dept of Forestry and Horticulture, 123 Huntington Street

Abstract – The band of trees within 100+ feet of roads, i.e., roadside forests, is often left unmanaged because of the potential liability of inadvertently causing a vehicular accident or damaging utility lines during harvest operations. While Connecticut is nearly 60 percent forested, roadside forests account for a least 5 percent of the total forested areas in the increasingly suburbanized landscape. Unfortunately, trees in these same neglected forests are often the cause of extensive utility outages and road blockage during severe weather. Building on the prescriptions created by a state task force, the authors, utility companies, state foresters, highway departments, and forest land owners initiated a collaborative project - STORMWISE that is developing and testing practical, cost-effective, and proactive protocols that integrate silvicultural and arboricultural practices. The goal of is to reduce damage during future severe storms, increase habitat diversity, and recover underutilized volume while also maintaining the aesthetic appeal of roadside forests. Immediately adjacent to utility and road corridors, trees are pruned using ANSI A300 and at risk trees are removed. To the interior, crop tree management is used to develop trees with wind-firm, open-grown characteristics along with subcanopies of short stature trees, native shrubs, and herbs. Eight study areas have been established along 5 km of roadside forests. Lessons learned on tree selection and coordination from implementation at three areas are being incorporated into treatments scheduled at the remaining sites. Results of treatments and monitoring will be used to inform communities and stakeholders about the management of roadside forests.