Ice storms cause $300 million in damage to SC trees

By Ava

Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) -- Mother Nature dealt an icy blow to pine trees in upper Berkeley and Dorchester counties throughout the month of February.

This winter's ice storms have caused $300 million in damage to our state's trees.

Now, the South Carolina Forestry Commission is helping landowners figure out what to do next.

"Snapping all night - sounded like gun shots going off all night long. Just tops breaking and the limbs popping off the trees," said Robert Dehay

The February ice storm is long gone but the damage it caused is still there.

Dehay said his tracts, one which was recently thinned and the other which is about five years old, are in trouble.

"Just took an initial look and we got to work up some numbers, but it's possible 60 to 70 percent loss," said Dehay.

Tony Artman is a project forester with the South Carolina Forestry Commission. He's working with many landowners like Dehay in Berkeley and Dorchester counties and walking them through the option of starting over.

"When I say a loss, that means a pine tree that will no longer grow. That can be due to a broke stem, which a lot of people have seen - completely broke off, broke in half, either at the base, up near the top in the middle anywhere on the stem of the pine tree," said Artman.

Artman said depending on the ages of the trees, landowners could wait and reevaluate in two to three years. He said because of the younger trees it's difficult to tell the landowners what to do because the trees will grow, just not to their full potential.

"Possibly let the trees grow into a chipable size tree so there could be some money made off of it. The other option is to remove the timber, the damaged timber that's here - all the timber that's here and replant it and improve genetic quality," said Artman. {}

Artman said chipping is worth significantly less money to the farmers but the good news is if they choose to start over the forest commission is offering cost share incentives for reforestation.


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