November is behind us and with it one of the worst storms ever experienced by the City of Spokane and the surrounding area. The impact on residents and the urban forest was significant, if not devastating. Many residents were out of power for days or weeks; many power outages were associated with tree failures.

While we don’t welcome storms, when they do occur it is important to look back over the course of the event. An after-action review helps discover gaps and identifies opportunities to improve management. How can you, as a community tree manager, and your community become better equipped to respond to natural catastrophes?

An urban forestry emergency management plan helps a community prepare for events that affect both trees and people. Plans prepared in advance of an emergency can help reduce the impacts of natural disasters. Fortunately, you do not need to start from scratch. There is a great resource to help you get started down the planning path. Urban Forestry Emergency Operations Planning Guide for Storm Response is a guide developed by the Friends of Hawaii’s Urban Forest through a grant from the Forest Service National Urban and Community Forest Advisory Council (NUCFAC) Grant. It is a comprehensive resource that can be used regardless of your geographic location.

Storms can be devastating to people and trees but preparing for the inevitable by planning now is well worth the investment.

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program