SCOTTSBLUFF — Following recent storms that struck areas across western Nebraska, the Nebraska Forest Service wants to remind communities to not overlook tree inspections. As cleanups progress, both damaged and undamaged trees should be inspected to ensure there are no additional risks to people or property.

“The best thing to do is to contact professionals when you’re dealing with heavy storm damage,” said Chrissy Land, Western Nebraska Community Forestry Specialist. “For trees, a certified arborist can provide technical expertise and help make proactive choices to reduce future damage from severe weather.”

For those completing their own inspections, first survey adjacent areas for downed power lines or damaged infrastructure. Do not approach downed power lines or attempt to work on trees in that area. Tree limbs can conduct electricity from live wires, causing serious injury or death.  

Pruning should be limited to broken branches and other observable hazards. Take special precautions as limbs and trunks may be ‘loaded’ with tension. This makes it difficult to predict how the tree will release this stored energy when cut. For this reason, any work off the ground (using a chainsaw or ladder), is not generally recommended without professional consultation.

After immediate threats are addressed, continue monitoring the tree’s health. Hail damage can create a number of small wounds throughout the canopy. However, a healthy tree will normally heal and protect itself from further problems. Signs of stress in the tree are important to note and document. These signs may be symptomatic to other complications such as pest and disease infestation or tree failure.

“Safety should always come first,” said Land. “We encourage tree owners to be proactive by regularly assessing the level of risk any tree may pose. If you see anything that causes concern, you should reach out to a professional.”

For more information on tree care and severe weather, please visit: https://nfs.unl.edu/storm-damaged-trees

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