Downed tree or branches due to storm? Here are cleanup tips

Contact: Kevin Sayers, 517-582-3209
Agency: Natural Resources

Aug. 13, 2021

Intense storms this week around Michigan have left many homeowners with downed trees or branches on their property.

If you're involved in storm cleanup, safety is a top priority. So is the task of keeping Michigan's trees and forests healthy. 

"If utility lines are down, stay away and notify the utility company," said Kevin Sayers, Urban and Community Forestry program leader for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "It's important to clean up, but it's more important to stay safe."

After power and other utilities have been restored, property owners will be faced with the issue of what to do with storm-damaged trees. Here's some advice from experts for common situations:

  • Trees and branches on homes and around power lines. Homeowners need to find solutions for trees and branches on their homes. Even if a hanging limb is clear of power and utility wires, homeowners should rely on professionals to assess the severity of the damage before trying to repair or remove a branch.
     
  • Injured trees requiring climbing or chainsaw work. Call a licensed arborist for help. Arborists are tree-care professionals who are trained to assess and work on storm-damaged trees. They also have the experience needed to diagnose how much of a tree can or should be saved. Be wary of those offering fly-by-night, emergency tree-cutting services. Always ask for proof of licensing, insurance and work references. Find more information about hiring an arborist from ISA-Michigan, Michigan's chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.
     
  • Keep pests in mind when disposing of wood. Wood left behind after trees are damaged by storms may harbor insects or diseases that are harmful to forests. Moving debris out of the local area can unknowingly spread pests to new areas. Be aware that there are rules, known as quarantines, that affect transport of some types of trees or limbs downed by storms.
     
  • It's recommended to recycle or reuse woody storm debris. Check the national Don't Move Firewood campaign for recommendations on seasoning and using local firewood.

Additional tips