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Recent ice and snow storms make a walk in the woods a little more risky

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
This tree broke under the weight of ice, falling on another tree, which fell against a third tree. They might stay this way for years, or all fall with the next stiff wind.

It's not just a walk in the woods. If you’re a hiker, hunter, or someone who spends time in Michigan forests, be aware. The recent ice storm and heavy snows caused a lot of trees and large branches to crash to the ground, but not all of them.

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
At some parks, state forests, and game areas, crews have not yet cleared trails. Even after they do, there might be hanging branches or trees fallen against other trees just off the trail. It's wise to be aware of your surroundings.

Heidi Frei is a Forest Health Specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation. She says some limbs or entire trees might have fallen against another tree or just a limb. She says it’s just a matter of time before it finishes its fall to the ground. That might take weeks, months, or even years.

“One thing to be aware of would be the wind. And so, if you’re seeing crowns of trees, you know, visibly moving around, it’s probably not the best idea to be in and around woods, especially if there’s lots of limbs that could fall,” Frei said.

Instead of only looking at the trail, it’s wise to look up to see if there’s a heavy branch dangling above the path.

“If there is downed material, you know, a log, a tree that maybe fell over, or a large branch, if there’s obstructions like that, that’s something where the public can really help us out by letting the park staff know,” Frei said.

She added, please, don’t try to clear it yourself.

Obviously, broken tree branches or fallen trees are not just a problem in state parks. Whether you’re on private property, a county preserve, or even a city park, it’s good to be aware of what’s overhead.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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