One of the more significant natural disturbances in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada in recent memory was the ice storm of January, 1998. In northern New York, thick accumulations of ice on tree branches caused severe crown damage across 280,000 ha of forest, including a rare pine barren in Clinton County. More than half of the trees in the pine barren were severely damaged by the ice storm, especially small-sized jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and mid-sized pitch pine (P. rigida) and red pine (P. resinosa). Over 60 percent of the sampled trees were dead after 10 growing seasons. Survival of damaged pitch pine trees was enhanced by growth of new branches from epicormic buds on the main stem. Experimental restoration cuttings were used in portions of the ice-damaged barren to decrease hazardous fuel loadings, reduce the density of ericaceous shrubs, scarify the soil surface and stimulate the release of jack pine seeds from the serotinous cones attached to broken branches. After 10 growing seasons, jack pine seedling density in the restoration cuttings averaged 9,500 stems per ha. The experimental cuttings successfully regenerated new jack pine stands without fire. Meanwhile, tree regeneration in the ice-damaged, unmanaged stands was sparse and most of these seedlings were generally red maple (Acer rubrum) or red oak (Quercus rubra). This study demonstrated that ice-damaged, fire-structured pine stands can be successfully regenerated using mechanical site treatments in northern New York.
Published in SUNY Plattsburgh's Scientia Discipulorum Journal of Undergraduate Research. Volume 4, issue 1, pages 1-20. 2009.