GA Forestry Report: April Tornadoes Cause $3 Million+ in Damages

The Georgia Forestry Commission has released its assessment of damage to timberland and rural trees following a series of tornadoes on April 12 and 13. A total of 30 tornadoes produced an estimated $3,692,960 in timber damage across 5,218 acres in 31 Georgia counties.

The report, “Timber Impact Assessment, April 2020 Tornadoes” was compiled by the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Forest Health Management Group & Sustainable Community Forestry Program. After the National Weather Service confirmed tornado levels from EF-0 to EF-3, with lengths from 0.5 miles to approximately 17 miles, GFC foresters were dispatched to calculate specific damage to urban, suburban and rural areas.

“There were four storms that created the largest acres of timber damage,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams. “The report shows that storms rated EF-2 or higher created timber damage that will likely require salvage harvesting and reforestation. Timber damage in storms rated EF-1 or lower was mostly light, and with minor clean-up, the stands will recover naturally,” Williams said.

According to the report, the four storms with the largest acres of timber damage were in Washington/Jefferson County (1,150 acres), Burke County (897 acres), Chattooga/Walker Counties (585 acres) and Upson County (570 acres). Although rated as EF-1 storms, the Bartow, Cherokee and Dade County storms did not have damage to forested areas that amounted enough to assign value.

Sustainable Community Forestry Program (SCFP) foresters on the Urban Forest Strike Team assessed damage to community forests along seven storm tracks. Those occurred in or near the cities of Fort Oglethorpe (Catoosa Co.), Rome (Floyd), Trion (Chattooga), Summerville (Chattooga), Trenton (Dade), Cartersville (Bartow), Chatsworth (Murray), Eton (Murray), Eatonton (Putnam) and Odum (Wayne). With the exception of Fort Oglethorpe and Odum, the impact to tree canopy in these communities was minimal, with some damage occurring to trees on private property in residential neighborhoods or sparsely populated areas outside city limits. However, there was minimal or no damage to public trees. In Fort Oglethorpe and Odum, there was loss of – or damage to – numerous trees on private properties, and to approximately 100 trees on four city-owned properties, including two public parks.

Landowners are encouraged to utilize professional foresters and arborists to help with decisions about timber management or potentially hazardous trees around homes and urban environments. Resources are included in the report.

To read the report in its entirety, go to https://gatrees.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Timber-Impact-Assessment-April-2020.pdf. Find information about the many services of the Georgia Forestry Commission at GaTrees.org.

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