Forestry Officials Caution Homeowners on Ice Damage Trees

Oklahoma City—The ice and snow is not yet gone away but already state forestry officials with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry have heard that out-of-state private contractors are on their way to solicit jobs pruning or removing damaged trees.

While there will certainly be many instances where such action is needed, home and property owners are advised to make sure of any contractor’s credentials before hiring them to do any job, advises Mark Bays, Urban Forestry Coordinator.

“The best thing to do is hire a qualified arborist to do this sort of work,” he said. “A good arborist will know which trees need to be removed and which ones simply need time to heal or some judicious pruning.”

Aside from proof that the person or company is a certified arborist, they should also have proof of insurance including liability and property damage as well as workman’s compensation, Atkinson said.

“Working on or around trees that have suffered ice damage can be dangerous work and it’s imperative that people know what they are doing and have the proper safety gear,” he said. “There is a reason we call hanging limbs and snags “widow-makers.” A lot of people have been killed or severely injured working in this sort of environment.”

State officials acknowledge that some of the contractors that come looking for work may be qualified to do the job but Bays said local arborists are a safer bet.

“My advice is to request some local references from anyone before hiring them,” he said. “Also, make sure you get more than one estimate for the job. If they want their money before they do the work, I would decline to hire them.”

Bays said the most important thing people need to remember is not to get in a hurry to prune or remove trees after the ice clears. Identify the trees that are damaged beyond repair or which pose an immediate threat to health and safety and deal with those immediately. There is plenty of time to deal with those trees that have moderate and minor damage.

“Patience is a real virtue when it comes to dealing with this type of damage to trees,” he said. “Trees have a remarkable ability to recover from catastrophic events so don’t be pressured into making a quick decision that you may regret for a long time”

For more information on how to help trees recover from ice storm damage, visit the ODAFF website at and view the Forestry Division’s site. You can also contact Forestry Services at 405-522-6158.