How to Manage Fallen Trees From the Icestorm – A Letter to Landowners

By Kathy Menyes, Director, Watershed Management Services

When I drive to Conservation Halton’s office in Lowville, I am still struck by the extensive damage to trees and woodlots in Halton’s rural areas: a still visible result of the icestorm that hit Southern Ontario prior to Christmas. The clean-up on our lands, and those of our neighbours, is still taking place. The bitterly cold winter and large amount of snow complicates the clean-up.

A few questions we have received is: what trees can I cut and remove, and do I need a permit to remove them?  Conservation Halton recommends the removal of any trees and branches that have fallen into creeks or are potentially blocking the flow of water in our creeks. These trees, which are already down due to damage from the icestorm, can be removed without a permit. Trees or large branches that have fallen into a creek could pose a flood risk on your property, or to your neighbours. When the snow melts in the spring, the fallen trees and branches could block the flow of water and affect drainage. This removal only applies to damaged trees and branches. As we all know, our established woodlots and tree areas add to the diversity of our watershed and enhance our natural areas; modifications to these areas can require permits.

Landowners who are removing trees from a creek, or near a creek, are reminded that if they are using heavy equipment to be mindful of any potential damage or impact to the creek;  its’ banks, the creek bottom, its’ shape, etc.  Any damage to the creek itself could increase flood risk and downstream erosion during snow melt by altering the flow of the water. Damage can also affect  the fish and wildlife that live in the creek. Please remember we need the creeks in good shape to carry the melted snow away in the spring. Landowners working to clean up the fallen trees and branches prevent problems in the spring by practicing good stewardship. We thank you, our watershed citizens, for your efforts.

If you are looking to plant new trees on your property, Conservation Halton’s Forestry Staff can provide advice on what to plant, as well as guide you to any funding opportunities which may be available.

If you have any questions about tree removal, please do not hesitate to contact us, 905-336-1158.

Additional Information:

Conservation Halton Forestry and Tree Planting: A direct link to Conservation Halton’s Forestry division for more information on Landowner Tree Planting

Trees Ontario: A link for more information on tree planting in the province of Ontario

Halton Regional Forests: A link for more information on forestry and bi-laws in the region of Halton

Flood Forecasting: A link from Conservation Halton with more information on floods, and flood warnings


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