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Can these fallen trees be saved? Windstorm advice from a forester

Some of the trees being piled up at church parking lot in Centerville. Photo: Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — The mighty oak in your front yard was toppled in the big windstorm: what to do now? A forester shares his expert advice on how to take care of fallen trees.

Dr. Mike Kuhns, Utah State University extension forester, gave some tips to Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic on saving fallen trees and why so many trees have been uprooted.

Timber: which fallen trees can be saved

The giant, beloved tree that stood tall on your street for decades — until the windstorm uprooted it — can it be saved?

“Any tree of any size won’t survive that kind of disruption,” Kuhns said. 

“What’s the nature of the disruption? The roots are just obliterated? There’s no reconnecting them? There’s no way for that tree to ever get nutrients through those roots again?” Lee asked.

Kuhns said if the roots are broken at the soil level and the tree is old and big, there was likely something wrong with the root system.

“Trying to stand it back up you’re going to try to fix a bigger problem than just the tree blew down,” Kuhns said.

He said fungi attach to trees and cause them to topple, so it’s not just where the tree is planted.

“To put it in COVID terms we can understand, the trees that toppled over due to the wind — they may also have had pre-existing conditions?” Lee asked.

“There’s a very good chance that they did, yes,” Kuhns said.

Now what?

“If I am homeowner and I have a big beautiful tree that’s been out in the backyard providing shade for years and years, and today I discovered it’s been toppled over, what do I do first?” Lee asked.

Kuhns said make sure there are no utility lines down in the area and do not go near them. He warned if you step over an electric line on the ground, it can arc over and kill you.

Lee suggested that homeowners could use their fallen trees to build something in their yard.

 

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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