Along Chaffeeville Rd. in Mansfield is a site approximately 1.5 acres in size (a 600 ft. by 100 ft. strip) that is part of the "Stormwise" research and outreach initiative related to trees, forest conditions and storm resistance. The work is being supported in part by Eversource Energy. The site is one of eleven sites around the state that are part of this long-term study.
Our long-term goal is to determine appropriate management approaches for roadside forests that eventually result in roadside forest conditions with species mix, density and structure that will be more wind resistant. It is an alternative, hopefully more comprehensive solution to the risk of tree failure during severe storms than the trimming-only program now being conducted by the utilities or the roadside clearing being applied by DOT. The basic concepts applied are 1) that trees with adequate space to grow, like any plant, will be healthier trees, 2) trees allowed to move in the wind will develop wind-firmness, 3) tree branches and crowns grow towards the light and thus lean toward the road, and 4) the right tree growing in the right place will not become a problem in the future.
Most roadside woods in our region have never received any management besides trimming, and for the most part have grown somewhat like an unweeded garden. They typically are overcrowded, stocked with some healthy and some unhealthy specimens, and at 80 to 100 years of age, have a number of individuals that are at or near the end of their natural life span. While Chaffeeville Road might not have experienced many tree-failure problems over the years, some communities experienced severe tree related problems along similar wooded roadsides during recent storm events. The Stormwise initiative aims to address this broader issue.
The specific management goal at Chaffeeville Road is to retain a canopy of taller trees that are healthy, straight, well-spaced and that have some longevity (about half the number), to bring along a sub-canopy of trees that will develop a shorter, broader, "bushier" appearance and create conditions that will favor the establishment of some younger trees to work with in the future.
The Chaffeeville Road site was selected as one of our treatment sites for several reasons. As part of UConn Forest we have the ability to closely monitor the effects of the treatment over time, the forest stands along the road are quite typical of many other similar roadside forests around the state, the site does include an area of recent-past severe wind disturbance, and the site also affords the multiple educational opportunities from the training of our forest crew to educational workshops for members of the public.
Thank you for your interest. Please don't hesitate to leave a comment or ask another question. We're here to help.