With 90 percent of power outages during storms caused by trees, Eversource and UConn are working together with Connecticut communities to develop near- and long-term solutions to minimize tree and power line damage.
Wooded areas are often overcrowded, impacting the vigor and strength of individual trees, and their ability to withstand the force of high winds. Strong winds can damage trees from their branches to their roots and, as forests continue to age, these problems can worsen.
Our forest management research is enabling the development of wind-firm and storm-resistant roadside trees and woodlands that are healthy and robust and have plenty of space to develop and grow. We are also helping towns to implement a ‘right tree right place’ approach to planting and preserving the beauty of roadside forests.
Careful management of this natural resource is supporting Connecticut’s local wood industry. Wood from tree trimming is first offered to homeowners and local companies, and then to local forest industry markets.
These activities are all part of our Stormwise Program, which is reducing outages, retaining the beauty of scenic roads, and reducing roadside maintenance costs.
In addition, we have incorporated trimming information into the Outage Prediction Model and through simulations of past and future storms to demonstrate benefits of tree trimming on reducing tree damage and outages.
Eversource and UConn work closely with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the US Forest Service, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and other partners on various phases of this research. Eleven sites around the state have been selected to be part of Stormwise forest management research and demonstration. The selected sites are typical of many similar wooded roadsides around the state, provide the ability to closely monitor the effects of vegetation management over time, and afford multiple educational opportunities, from the training of tree crews to educational workshops for members of the public.
Our long-term goal is to determine appropriate management approaches needed to foster roadside forests with tree diversity, density and structures that are wind resistant. We seek a long-term and comprehensive solution to address tree failure risk during severe storms using a combination of arboricultural and silvicultural (i.e., forest management) practices beyond just trimming. The basic concepts applied are:
Trees with adequate space to grow, like any plant, will be healthier trees.
When allowed to move in the wind, trees will develop wind-firmness.
Tree branches and crowns grow towards the light and thus lean toward the road.
The right tree growing in the right place will not become a problem in the future.
A specific management goal in many cases might be to retain a canopy of taller trees that are healthy, straight, well-spaced and that have some longevity. This cultivates a sub-canopy of trees that will develop a shorter, broader, bushier appearance and will create conditions favoring the establishment of younger trees to work with in the future. Other research goals include:
Testing the opportunities for and limitations of small scale harvesting and primary processing of Connecticut timber, as applied to implementing Stormwise management recommendations.
Examining the opportunities for and limitations of portable band sawmills, to play a role in small-scale wood product value recovery.
Stormwise roadside forest management demonstration sites have been successfully established at the following sites:
Nathan Hale Forest, Coventry
UConn Forest, Spring Hill Tract, Mansfield
UConn Forest, Fenton Tract, Storrs
White Memorial Foundation, Litchfield
Meshomasic State Forest, East Hampton
Connecticut Water Company, Prospect
Manchester Water Company, Glastonbury
|Thomas Worthley, Associate Extension Professor, Forest Resources, University of Connecticut|
|Nancy Marek, Research Forester, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Connecticut|
|Jeffrey Ward, CT Agricultural Experiment Station – New Haven, CT|
|Frances Pacyna Champagne, Graduate Student, University of Connecticut|
|Amanda Bunce, Graduate Student, University of Connecticut|
|John Volin, Department Head, Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut|
|Sean Redding, Manager - Vegetation Management, Eversource Energy|