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Download Urban Forest Storm Plan Strategies (59.6 MB)


Trees provide many benefits, economically, socially and environmentally to our communities. Trees can also have a

significant impact as mitigation from storm damage or they can increase property damage and delay recovery and

response. The attached Storm Mitigation and Preparedness plans outline best management practices and

strategies to address these issues. The purpose of the plan is to help prepare for the next storm, reduce damage,

save money, reduce debris removal, conserve utilities, improve local coordination and labor, speed up response and recovery time, while stabilizing the tree canopy and its related benefits. The best management practices will also

outline ways to use trees to optimize mitigating storm damage. These plans and strategies are designed to be

customized by any local community.


Storm Preparedness and Mitigation (294 KB)

Plan and Strategies for Mississippi Communities


Outline to the Model Urban Forest Storm Plan:

An urban forest storm plan is a program to prepare a community to deal with damage to city trees and the urban forest of the community. A program such as this involves both public trees and trees on private property. There are specific responsibilities for the public sector dealing with health, safety and welfare issues and specific responsibility for property owners. This outline is primarily focused on the public sector keeping in mind that public trees occur along streets, in parks, on public property. Private trees, known as ‘boundary line trees’ overhang property lines, walkways, streets, underground utilities and below overhead lines. Boundary trees are also a public concern. With boundary line trees, the public and the property owner must work together on those trees in regard to storm damage.

The following are considerations for creating an Urban Forest Storm Plan for any community of any size. A small community will adapt this plan in a way that meets their budget, personnel, need and capability. Medium size or large communities will adopt it accordingly.

Finally, the purpose of a Storm Plan is to allow a community to prepare for, manage and recover from damage to their urban forest following any type of storm inflicted by nature. Potential damage as a result of wind, fire, flooding, ice, hurricane, tornado, insect blight or disease can be minimized by having a management program in place.
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What is in the Storm Preparedness and Mitigation Plan and Strategies?
Table of Contents Page Number
Planning For Storms in the Urban Forest 5
Storms in the Urban Forest 6
The Urban Forest 8
Benefits of the Urban Forest 8
Community Tree Canopy 10
Calculating Canopy 13
Significant Trees 19
Hurricane Resistant Urban Forests 21
A Sustainable Urban Forest 24
Storms Over the Urban Forest 26
Best Practices for Emergency Storm Response 31
Planning 32
Management 34
Risk Reduction 35
Response 39
Recovery (Re-greening) 45
Codes And Standards 51
Summary of Best Management Practices 58
Appendix A Planning 61
Appendix B Management 62
Appendix C Risk Reduction 63
Appendix D Response 67
Appendix E Recovery 69
Appendix F Definitions 71
Appendix G Storm Response Directory 77
Appendix H Model Enactment Ordinance 79
Appendix I Storm Resistant Trees 80
Appendix J Sample Management Budget 80
Appendix K Storm Debris 83
Appendix L Sample Damage Report 85
Outline to the Model Ordinance 86
Suggestions For Property Owners 102
List of Figures
Figure 1. Mississippi, The Magnolia State 4
Figure 2. Inland Coastal Wetlands Are Storm Barriers 6
Figure 3. Town Center Urban Forestry Canopy 7
Figure 4. Minimum Canopy Standard, Single Family Districts 10
Figure 5. A Community of Significant Architecture and Trees 18
Figure 6. Ocean Springs Street Tree Canopy 19
Figure 7. A Community Subject to Coastal Storms 20
Figure 8. Wind Damage Within the Fall Zone 21
Figure 9. Wind Damage in the Urban Forest 24
Figure 10. Katrina’s Damage in the Urban Forest, 2005 25
Figure 11. Tub Grinder Recycles Downed Trees 26
Figure 13. Storm Damage in Ocean Springs 27
Figure 14. Post Storm Clean Up Activities 28
Figure 15. Felling and Removal 28
Figure 16. A Tree Crew Stands Ready for a Storm 29
Figure 17. Planning Prepares a Community for Future Storms 30
Figure 18. Management Requires that Someone is in Charge 32
Figure 19. Management of Public or Private Tree Crews 33
Figure 20. Management Requires Equipment to be Available and Ready 33
Figure 21. Pre-storm Reduction Cuts 34
Figure 22. Structural Pruning 35
Figure 23. Thinning and Training Operations 36
Figure 24. In The Trees 41
Table 12. Damage Report Outline 42
Figure 25 Lift Boom in Action 43
Figure 26. Recovery By Tree Planting Operations 44
Figure 27. Planting For the Future 45
Figure 27. Restoration Pruning 45
Figure 28. Planting A New Forest 48
Figure 29. Community Tree Planting Activities 49
Figure 30 Restoration Begins in the Ground 50
Figure 31. Landscape Code Administrator 52
Figure 32. Planting To Code Standards 55
Figure 33. Young Trees Become Ancient Trees and Shade Our Cities 57
Figure 34. Trees Form the Backdrop to This Place 59
Figure 35. Structural Similarity 63
List of Tables
Table 1. American Forests Canopy Standards 9
Table 2. Site Specific Canopy Standards 10
Table 3. Typical Office of Forestry Storm Duties 28
Table 4. Management Tasks for Storm Trees 33
Table 5. Tree Staff for a Large Forestry Office 33
Table 6. Storm Training of Trees 35
Table 7. Arboricultural Activities Associated with Trees 36
Table 8. Call Record Log 38
Table 9 . Response Stage Activities 39
Table 10. Priority of Tree Damage 40
Table 11. Essential Arborist Decisions 40
Table 13. Response on Private Property 44
Table 14. Tree Take Down Necessary 46
Table 15. Chainsaw Use 48
Table 16. Tree Ordinance Regulations 52
Table 17. Landscape Code Regulations 53
Table 18. Storm Responsive Regulations 55
Table 19. The Florida Principles 60


Purpose Someone must manage a program such as outlined here. This person will be the person in city government that designs the program in detail and determine how to accomplish the goal listed directly above. This person may be an existing employee who has interest and some knowledge about trees or gardening. This task could very well be a limited part time job in a small city. In a larger city it may be a full time job assigned to a licensed arborist, urban forester, horticulturist or even a landscape architect. Tree knowledge can be learned, but the role of a manager is to manage and accomplish what is needed.
A volunteer Tree Board or Tree and Landscape commission might be able to assist in the management of the program.

The first act of management will be to adopt and Enactment Ordinance (See Appendix B) to carry out the duties of the Storm Plan
Personnel One person in any size community can play this role. (See staffing plan below that shows the management & planning work for which this person is responsible.) This person may not necessarily be an arborist, although knowledge of trees is important, and can be easily learned over time. What is needed is someone with management experience that can grow all aspects of a tree management program. A skill set involving some knowledge in management, accounting, public relations, writing, personnel management and city operations would be excellent. Someone who is outgoing, personable and resourceful would be a valued manager. A background in urban forestry, arboriculture horticulture, planning, management, landscape architecture would be ideal.

Budget In a small community a start-up budget might be $50,000 a year and for a larger community a budget would be needed based upon the size of the community and the number of people who would work in management functions. An estimate might be two to four positions that average $50.000.00 each. Of course, in both instances the community must determine the amount of money budgeted.

Duties Organize the program, enlist existing employees and volunteers, makes arrangements for storm work with local DPW and with contracted private sector tree management companies. Coordinate activities with state and Federal agencies.

Seek resources including grants, gifts, licensing fees and budget supplements. This will require resources for office space, clerical assistance, travel and some training funding for current city employees.

Prepares a Management Plan to define all aspects of the Storm Plan including personnel, budget, duties, proposed activities and schedule of needed supplies, equipment and contacts with possible outside help.
__________________________ __________________
City Forestry Manager Reports to Mayor through Public Works Director
In charge of providing direction, managing employees
Directs management, planning, response and recovery
Uses existing staff for minor work with approval of PW
Contracts without outside crews
Coordinates with all agencies, prepare reports & grants
Works with Emergency Response Manager, Finance
Director & Public Relations Secretary
Encourages volunteer effort and commercial sponsors
Lead Forester/ISA Arborist Reports to Forestry Manager, Manages city crew of 4
Trains assistants (safety & arboricultural, work routines)
Determines work and schedules arboricultural work
Organizes risk reduction activities
Inspects damage, writes reports, manages supplies,
Equipment, expenses and hourly work records
Coordinates public service teaching for citizens
Works in the bucket and in the trees

Arborist Assistant II Ground work cutting in charge of clean up
Maintains mechanical equipment
Leads the work of volunteers
Forestry Assistant Driver, clean up specialists, runs chipper
Processes green waste
Manual labor for clean up
__________________________ __________________
Note: The staffing plan is designed to begin with one employee, a job by job
contracted independent arborist and the use of existing DPW workers.
As budget allows the Forestry Operation can grow along with responsibilities.


Purpose The planning section of the Storm Plan is to make plans for activities, personnel routines, and work methods needed prior to any storms or devastating events that might affect trees in the urban forest. This task is used to fully understand the operations, needed personnel and resources that are put into action as part of the response phase of this plan.

For larger communities with more resources or at some point in time three professional arboricultural planning activities ought to take place to help the community manage its tree resources better.

The first would be to have an ecological survey and inventory of the entire urban forest of the community. This would normally be created by a consultant with the specialized equipment and expertise to do so. This inventory will assess the various tree masses of the community, determine their ecological value to the city, calculate the number of species and individual trees per acre and determine just how much pollution removal, stormwater management, air cleansing services and climate modification the urban forest is providing.

Another really important activity for this phase for large and small communities is the generation of a street tree planting plan. This will require that all possible street planting spaces be identified, and all existing street trees surveyed. A street tree survey will locate all public trees along streets, determine their species, size, health and growing conditions. Problem trees interfering with streets, walkways, utilities would be removed.

And finally, all communities large, medium and small ought to create and encode into their tree ordinance an official street tree planting list. This should be created listing the species of trees that should be allowed to be planted. This will eliminate the use of the wrong tree in the wrong place and restrict the list of species to those that are more storm resistant and do not turn into problem trees. The best street trees to use in tight urban spaces are small in stature, flowering and moderately fruiting with interesting fine textured evergreen leaf patterns.

Personnel Planning staff might be a part time or full time position in a small community and perhaps several more in a medium or large community.

Budget This will be based available budget but since planning is largely personnel time few additional expenses will be required other than special project expenses, or money expended for contracted planning, contracted design or grant preparation services. City councils for each community will decide how much budget is to be provided.
Duties This part of the effort puts the program manager more in touch with the needs of the urban forest and even individual trees along streets, in parks and around public facilities. In a small community this means a windshield survey of all public trees and boundary line trees that may cause problems with public infrastructure or utilities as part of a storm event. Identify problem trees, those that might cause problems by coming down, breaking apart or doing damage to public facilities shall be noted and the locations determined. In a larger community this might involve a complete urban forest inventory of all public trees and boundary trees as well as an ecological study of the urban forest resources on private land.

Planning also involves being alert and having an alert & warning system and staying in daily touch with the weather bureau, Doppler radar and local weather news to be prepared for storms. The manager must determine the potential damage that can be caused by an incoming storm, monitor the storm during its development in regard to intensity, duration, damage and locations in the city where damage is most severe. Road blockages and downed power lines must be located as soon as possible.

The manager(s) must be ready to issue notice to city administration, public works and other divisions of government in the case of a regional weather alert. If storms are pending the manager delivers notifications to employees various departments as well as stand by contracted tree services to be on standby for storm damage.

Part of planning is make sure that any supplies, equipment, vehicles or man power is available should a storm strike. Prepare inventories. Contacts are made or contingency contracts are made with national tree companies like Asplundh, Davey, Bartlett or local certified professional tree companies and independent arborist, urban foresters, landscape architects clean up and hauling contractors.

There is paper work, report forms, inventories and the like that must be prepared as part of this task for the response task that follows.

Design and set up a system for handling incoming damage complaint telephone calls and dispatching outgoing field orders and have Storm Assessment and Storm Response Web Site prepared to offer educational, safety and clean up and replanting advise to the general public.

Set up a field cell phone system and protocol to be in contact with employees, volunteers and contract service providers working in the field during the response phase of this

Storm Plan

Prepare call log or Storm Response Directory similar to Appendix A and have it ready for use. Distribute widely and publish


Risk Reduction

Purpose Risk reduction is pro-active urban forestry in which problem trees or hazard trees noted in a tree inventory, windshield survey or called to the attention of the city by residents are strengthened, storm trained, reduced, structurally altered or removed and replanted prior to storms. Young trees as well as mature trees that are thought to be subject to storm damage can be treated with preventive pruning techniques to make them my ‘storm ready.’ Trees impacting public utilities, blocking views at intersections or thought to be a hazard are treated in a similar manner as needed.

Training of workmen is another primary part of risk reduction. Employees need to have occupational training opportunities as well as continuing education associated with trees and working safely with equipment. Some workmen will need to gain state or local licensing so they must study, get practice experience and then go through licensing.
For cities who establish pre-storm contracts for contacted services it is important to see a work safety plan, company safety record, equipment schedule and certificate of insurance with coverage for automobiles, property damage, workman’s compensation and casualty Any company or independent arborist under contract contracted for tree services ought to have these materials. This company must have experience workmen who are properly dressed, properly trained and properly experienced to be providing services under dangerous situations. Licensed arborists must be available on each and every job site.

The use of independent licensed local arborists is encouraged for small jobs but they must be experienced and carry the proper insurance. Many independents actually climb the trees and do not have capacity for high-rise equipment.

Personnel This may be a pick up crew from city government working with a licensed arborist in the case of a small or medium sized town. With a large city, they may have an urban forestry division fully stocked with equipment, personnel. In both small and large communities risk reduction may be contracted out to an independent tree service company.

Budget As determined by the city council dependent upon available funding. Small towns may acquire preventive funding through FEMA grants, larger towns may have a yearly allocated budget line devoted to urban forestry risk reduction.

Duties Risk reduction requires the locating of trees that are potential problem trees or hazard trees and performing one of several arboricultural services. These services may include removal, preventive pruning for storm training and replanting.

Purpose This is the actual response on the part of the city once a storm has struck, has passed and has done its damage to the urban forest. It involves storm damage assessment, call out of personnel or contracted services, clean up, haul off, green waste processing and post storm arboricultural services as needed. Record keeping and public safety advisement and seeking emergency funding is a major responsibility of this phase of the storm plan.

Immediately after the storm a quick damage assessment is made in the community to locate major problem areas such at road blockage or downed electric lines since these are the first problems to be solved. During this assessment ‘tree triage’ is conducted and noted on addressed labeled work forms to determine the trees that need immediate attention, trees that can be treated later, trees that need to be removed and replanted and trees that can be restored through restoration treatments.
Workman safety is a primary concern so all personnel working in the trees, in bucket truck, working with chainsaws or mechanical equipment such as chippers, stump grinders, chip trucks, skid-steer loaders, hydraulic cranes must be properly trained.

Personnel This of course is the most labor intensive part of a storm plan. It takes place immediately after abatement of the storm and as soon as response operations are launched. All aspects of government swing into action starting with city administration, police, fire, fire rescue, emergency management, public works, purchasing, city forestry personnel, contracted tree services, and outside emergency management agencies.

Budget As established by action of the City Council. The budget for this very active part of the storm plan may be an annual line budget for urban forestry work or emergency response activities that are used only during city wide emergencies.

Duties The principal work of this phase is the un-blocking of streets, clearing of right of ways, sectioning trees for later clean up, dropping partially fallen limbs, placing barriers and warning signs (particularly where utility companies have not found downed lines) and special citizen projects involving the elderly, infirm and those with immediate danger of falling trees. This work may be down by city forestry crews, crews sent by agencies (Corps of Engineers, FEMA etc) or contacted out services to independent arborist or tree service companies.

The secondary work of this phase is city and neighborhood clean up. Within hours, weeks, or months based upon the severity of the storm, and after most private land owners have treated their trees and cleaned up their yards the work of clearing and out and processing green waste is undertaken.

Sectioned trunks are loaded with skid-steer loaders and hauled off to lumber mills or large rotary tub grinders in special grinding yards. Large limbs that have been sectioned are loaded to chip trucks and they too are delivered to the tub grinders. Smaller branches, twigs and leaf debris or are chipped at pick up places. These places may be curbside or neighborhood chipping and processing parks. These two acre parks should be located in neighborhoods where residents can cart their green waste for disposal. Stumps are ground out along streets and on public land and this is the last clean up activity in the field.

The final work of response is the processing of green waste. Burning or dumping in a community landfill is not the answer. The potential energy in the green waste is too valuable as organic material to be simply gotten rid of. This organic debris can be an important mulch and soil building product for gardeners and for use by the community parks department. The green waste stream can be a revenue stream for city tree programs if the chipped and composted organic matter is processed, bagged and sold by the cubic yard. At twenty dollars a cubic yard what was storm waste becomes storm profit and the proceeds can purchase young trees and planting materials to replant the urban forest. Proceeds can also partially pay for forestry staff.

A small community might provide an exclusive contract to someone wishing to get into the mulch processing business. This contract would not only cover storm waste but all of the green waste that is generated in the city each year.

Larger cities might create their own green waste processing center. In addition to processing waste, this center might provide educational programming for the public and even distribute free saplings and free mulch during special events. This would be a very good way to raise awareness of the urban forest and what citizens can do to support it. This public operation could also be involved with recycling and disposal of hazardous household waste as well.


Purpose The recovery phase of the Storm Plan is involved with restoration pruning services and replacement of trees that were lost due to the fury of the storm through replanting programs.

Large trees that overturn or break up without posing damage to life of property are generally processed after the storm, and not during the storm. As we have seen, immediately after storms occur extreme hazard trees are removed, major structural problems with broken limbs are repaired and hangers (limbs high in a tree) are removed. So the first work of recovery requires a major amount of arboricultural skill to stabilize and save trees that are healthy, but deformed.
Recovery in regard to an urban forest creates a goal to also replant young trees to rebuild the tree canopy that was lost. A community will rebuild the canopy by strengthening the urban forest to better withstand the next assault by nature. Using more storm resistant, slow growing native coastal trees with fine leaf texture and low stature is preferred. A tree planting program that removes non-native plants and adds native plants in groves is the major part of this phase.
The work of this phase can take many years to implement. It can involve both city staff, contracted services and volunteer work by citizens of NGO that work under a non-profit expectation.

Personnel As a minimum of for a smaller community there is a need for at least one city staff person who can organize tree replanting programs and make arrangements for contracted restoration work. Larger communities may have forestry staff and field crews that can replant trees around the community.
Budget The City Council can provide allocated tax dollars and additional proceeds consisting of grants, gifts and donated in-kind services. For a small community this might be $100,000 to $200,000 a year. For a larger community with more active volunteers, gifted grant writers and commercial donors this could amount to hundreds of thousands a year. Tree City USA status by the Arbor Day Foundation requires $2.00 per citizen per year for membership. With an aggressive community tree program that is processing green waste, finding commercial sponsors for tree planting programs and using citizen volunteers this number can easily be elevated to $20 to $40 per resident with an active urban forestry administrator.

Duties Primary duties following response operations and cleaning the city of storm debris are involved restoration pruning activities and green waste processing. This can be done with city crews or by contract with tree service companies. Secondary duties include developing an aggressive volunteer community tree program involved with providing citizen services, educational programming, finding commercial sponsors tree planting programs using citizen volunteers.