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Storm Damage at West Rock

This blowdown was on the Red-White Trail by Lake Wintergreen. On March 8, 2018, I cut the branches hanging down to allow people to walk under the tree.
I returned on March 22, 2018 to cut the tree away from the trail. It was sad to have to cut such a vibrant looking tree, but it was rooted on thin soil and when it fell, most of the roots were pulled out of the ground, giving the tree a dim prospect for survival. Propped against the tree is a Silky Katanaboy 500, an impressive pruning saw that I was using for the first time.

Nor'easter Storm Damage, March 7, 2018
The nor'easter of March 7, 2018 was the first significant storm to affect the trails since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The hardest hit area was the Red Trail from Lake Wintergreen to Mountain Road, and in particular, the Red Trail from the Purple Trail north to the powerlines. Numerous trees growing along the banks of Wintergreen Brook fell across the trail as the weight of the heavy snow uprooted them. One oak tree completely blocked the trail, while other evergreen trees leaned at an angle with branches hanging down.
The other trails suffered the occasional blowdown, usually a combination of a small tree or shrub (4 inch diameter) that snapped in half with the crown hanging over the trail, or a large tree (10 inches in diameter) that fell across the trail. The White Trail along Lake Wintergreen encountered this type of damage.

Four trees remain to be cleared from the nor'easter, three of which are easily stepped over and one can be walked under. I plan to arrange for a volunteer with a chainsaw to clear these blowdowns.
On the Red Trail at the southern end of the park near the steps is a 12-inch red oak across the trail that is easily stepped over, a tree I will clear on a future visit.
On the Red-White Trail above the field near Farm Brook Reservoir the top of a red oak is snapped across the trail at about six feet of height, but getting under it is easy.
On the Regicides Trail a bit south of the Yellow Trail are two red oaks that fell across the trail and are resting comfortably on the ground.  

Thunderstorm Damage, May 15, 2018
The second significant storm to affect West Rock was the thunderstorm on May 15, 2018, which in Hamden was a microburst north of the park extending over to Sleeping Giant State Park and Wharton Brook State Park. Those parks suffered extensive damage resulting in their closure to clear fallen and damaged trees.
Sleeping Giant may not reopen until the fall or winter, 2018, the damage is so extensive. Dramatic drone footage of the parking lot damage at Sleeping Giant may be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trN7pxjbkyAThe Sleeping Giant Park Association has photos of the damage to the park with some 300 trees down, plus progress on the cleanup: https://www.facebook.com/Sleeping-Giant-Park-Association-SGPA-Official-Site-124405787638472/

West Rock suffered scattered damage, and was relatively unscathed in the southern half from the South Overlook to the Purple Trail. I made 17 visits to the park from May 19 to July 5, 2018, to inspect trails and clear any damage, sometimes by myself, and other times with another person.
In the south end of the park as far north as the Purple Trail, the only real damage was a 12 inch diameter pine tree on the Red Trail at the south end of Lake Wintergreen that broke about 10 feet off the ground.
Fortunately, only the crown fell on the trail, so a friend and I cleared it in a few minutes. The parking lot at Lake Wintergreen was fine with no evidence that anything had fallen, a change from the March storm when large limbs were in the parking lot.
In the northern half of the park, other than the three sections discussed below, from the Purple Trail north to York Mountain, the trails encountered only minor damage.
I cleared the occasional moderate sized tree or tree crown from the Regicides Trail, and there was nothing to clear on the Sanford Feeder. On the Red Trail between the two sections of Mountain Road, I cleared several small blowdowns (4 to 6 inch diameter trees).
There were six large trees down on the Regicides Trail just north of the Yellow Trail, all of which a volunteer sawyer from the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) cleared on May 31. These trees were either white pine trees or red oaks and they were uprooted by the wind, all of which fell from west to east. There was a large red oak across the Yellow Trail near Baldwin Drive that a friend and I cleared. In the woods by the top of the Yellow Trail, a number of large oak trees also fell.
Three large trees fell across Baldwin Drive, two in the vicinity of the Yellow Trail, and one about a mile north of the Yellow Trail. The volunteer sawyer cleared one, I cleared a second, and the state cleared a third.
I cleared the crowns of two red oak trees near the north end of Baldwin Drive.

By contrast, the Quinnipiac Trail on the west side of York Mountain suffered extensive damage. In a three-quarter mile section of trail, extending from Brooks Road up the ridge, I counted about 14 blowdowns, many of them major. The most dramatic one, located about a third of a mile east of Brooks Road, is shown below. This gives a sense of what the trails at Sleeping Giant must be like.
A dozen volunteers cleared these blowdowns in the first two weeks of June. Workers and volunteers had already been working on the many blowdowns on the Quinnipiac Trail west of Brooks Road. The Quinnipiac Trail is now clear from Brooks Road to Whitney Avenue.
Outside the boundaries of West Rock, the Quinnipiac Trail suffered severe damage between Mad Mare Ridge on the west side of Brooks Road to Downs Road. As of early July 2018, the Q Trail is still blocked in the area near the powerlines with blowdowns about every 50 feet. Volunteers hope to clear the trail within the next few weeks.


A blowdown on the Quinnipiac Trail, about 0.3 miles east of Brooks Road, which has been cleared by volunteers.





A fallen tree blocks Baldwin Drive just north of the Yellow Trail, May 23, 2018. This was cleared on May 31.
The tree in the process of being cleared by a volunteer sawyer on May 31, 2018.
The road is now clear for bicyclists and hikers in this area.
A pine tree leans over the Regicides Trail, about a third of a mile north of the Yellow Trail, May 23, 2018.
This was cleared on May 31. This photo was taken June 7. Note that with the weight of the crown removed, the tree partially stood itself back up again.
A red oak trunk partially blocks the Regicides Trail, about a third of a mile north of the Yellow Trail, May 23, 2018.
The oak tree was cleared on May 31 and this photo was taken June 7, 2018.


A pine tree blocks the Regicides Trail, about a quarter a mile north of the Yellow Trail, May 23, 2018.
I cut away the limbs from the pine tree blocking the Regicides Trail, about 0.15 miles north of the Yellow Trail, allowing hikers to step over the left side. I had neither the time, nor the energy, nor the daylight to cut and remove the entire tree as it was nearing 8 p.m. on May 23, 2018. I also cut and removed and cedar tree felled by the pine tree. Just after I took this photo, I removed the dead hemlock beyond the pine tree.
The tree in the process of being cut, as seen from the other angle. The tree was cleared on May 31, 2018. Due to the rain that started falling when the work was completed, I do not have a photo of the cleared area, as I did not want to get my camera wet.
A double-trunked pine tree blocks the Regicides Trail, about a third of a mile north of the Yellow Trail, June 7, 2018.
A volunteer sawyer finishes a cut on the top trunk in this view from the opposite side of the tree on June 7, 2018.
The tree has been cleared as seen from the same direction as the first photo, June 7, 2018.

The crown of this red oak tree partially blocks the Regicides Trail, a bit south of the Purple-Orange Trail in June 2018. This moderate-sized blowdown is more typical of the damage at West Rock from the May thunderstorm.
I cleared the blowdown on June 12, 2018 in about 15 minutes with a handsaw, and used the pieces to block a rocky area above the trail, guiding hikers to stay on the trail.
Post-Northeaster Storm Damage Details
Prior to the May 15, 2018 thunderstorm, following about 10 visits to clear away fallen limbs and trees, these trails were all clear of blowdowns: Blue, Gold, Green, Orange, Purple (along with Purple-White and Purple-Orange), White, Red-White (by Farm Brook Reservoir and Lake Wintergreen), Blue-Red (Sanford Feeder), Blue-Yellow (Westville Feeder) and Teal.
There were numerous overhanging limbs and smaller fallen trees on the White Trail, along with fallen trees on the Purple-White and Purple Trails. Other trails were only lightly affected.
The storm hit hardest on the Red Trail section south of the northern junction with the White Trail down to Lake Wintergreen. Trees on the opposite site of Wintergreen Brook crashed down, as they were growing in the soft soil along the top of the bank. The worst section is from the Purple Trail north about 0.3 miles where there are numerous blowdowns.
The trail gnomes had cut away branches on some of the blowdowns to allow people to get through (Trail gnomes are small woodland creatures who come out at night to deal with small trail problems.) I cleared most of the overhanging limbs, cut back some of the smaller trunks, and opened up some of the larger blowdowns.
Some of the fallen trees are hemlocks, which is particularly unfortunate because the hemlocks have been already devastated by the woolly adelgid, and the remaining ones don't need other forces destroying them.
A third of a mile north of the Purple Trail a large red oak almost completely blocked the trail. As it fell, it took down several smaller trees. I cleared away the smaller trees on the north side of the tree, but did not have the energy to clear away the trees on the south side of this blowdown. On a return visit, I opened up another hemlock tree by cutting the overhanging branches, and cut away a hemlock tree near the Purple Trail. I reported the Red Trail blowdowns to the state, which did open up the trail. Some trees were removed, while others were cut back. The trail is clear for users.

These photos are all following the March 2018 northeaster. Note to the lack of leaves on the trees.


This photo of a downed red oak tree on the Red Trail is after I spent 35 minutes clearing away smaller limbs on one side. The state cut this open, so the trail is accessible.
This photo of a downed hemlock tree on the Red Trail is after I opened up the limbs enough for people to walk under the tree. The state cleared this one.
The trail gnomes had cut away a couple of branches under this downed hemlock tree on the Red Trail enough for people to squeeze through the tree.
The hemlock tree on the Red Trail after I cut away many of the smaller branches, allowing easy access. The state cleared this one.

This photo shows three problem trees on the White Trail near the junction with the Orange Trail. On March 8, 2018, a friend and I cut the birch tree on the right  sticking up at a 45 degree angle, which was knocked over onto the trail by the red pine tree lying across the trail. That same day, we cut the "horns" off the tree to allow people to more easily step over the fallen trunk. Crossing the entire trail at a 45 degree angle is a dead hemlock, leaning against another tree.

On March 22, 2018, I cut the red pine tree and rolled the trunk off the trail. I cut the hemlock at shoulder height and then threw another tree trunk at the cut. After they crashed to the ground, I cut up the larger tree and put the sections off the trail.

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