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Dealing with Winter Storms in Lake Oswego

In light of the most recent storm, our hearts go out to the 30+ residents who have had trees fall on their homes, and hundreds more whose homes have been damaged by tree limbs and freezing pipes. Many of us have endured days without power and heat. We grieve, as at least 8 people in Oregon have died during the freezing cold and falling trees of this storm.

Now as the ice begins to thaw, we are facing the challenges of addressing storm damage. Below are a few tips for folks dealing with the fallout of fallen and damaged trees.


If a tree falls on your property…

  • First assess the situation and prioritize safety. Ensure there are no live wires around or any other immediate dangers. Consider consulting a professional arborist for a comprehensive assessment of the tree’s condition and advice on removal. If the tree is too large or poses safety issues, you may need a tree removal service. 
  • Follow city guidelines for any hazard tree removal permitting. Note: You do not need a tree removal permit for fallen or broken off trees brought down by winter weather storm conditions.
  • Folks with damaged trees may want to contact an arborist to address broken limbs. Proper pruning will make the tree less vulnerable to disease.
  • Brian French, an arborist we frequently work with, expects more trees to fall because while damage on some trees is obvious, seemingly healthy-looking trees may be facing root damage. Any resident with a large mature tree(s) should have it inspected by an ISA-certified arborist.
  • When possible, large logs can be retained as habitat features. Small branches and fallen debris can protect soil and feed fungi. In cases where debris is too overwhelming, debris piling should be avoided to reduce fire risk.
  • If you have access to a chipper, you can break down larger branches and use the wood chips for landscaping purposes like mulching soil around trees.
  • OLWC Urban Forest Committees are neighborhood groups dedicated to discussing natural resource issues and galvanizing volunteers around restoration projects. Contact if you have a small scale cleanup project you need assistance with.

Next Steps and Preventative Tips for Future Storms

  • A few causative factors made this a particularly devastating storm for trees (a combination of east winds, saturated soils, and stressed trees from several successive dry summers) but there is some preventative work that can be done by residents to help protect the trees around them. We are fortunate to be aiding the process of updating the City of Lake Oswego Urban and Community Forestry plan which will address these concerns and provide a platform for community discussions around tree damage. Often these storms expose trees that are already stressed. Surface fertilization as well as shallow and frequent watering causes surface root formation and decreases stabilization.    
    Residents can reduce damage to their trees and structures by: 
  • Developing relationships with local arborists for specialized pruning and watering guidelines.
  • Removing any invasive vines that could weigh trees down and make them vulnerable to winds and ice. See our Ivy Removal page for more info about invasive English Ivy
  • Carefully assessing site conditions and species appropriateness when choosing new trees to plant. Check out Lake Oswego’s Right Tree Right Place handbook.

Winter storms often bring challenges that can be mitigated through the strength of community. Whether it’s helping each other with snow removal, checking on vulnerable community members, or sharing resources, neighbors are contributing to a safer and more connected community. 


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