To Recognize a Hazard Tree... Hazard Trees Safe Backcountry Travel in Alaska
Lori Trummer and Paul Hennon Forest Service,
Alaska Region, State and Private Forestry.
...FIRST LOOK UP
For More Information:
USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry
THINGS THAT “SHOUT”—“WATCH OUT”...
Forest Health Protection
Southcentral Field Office
3301 “C” Street, Suite 202
Anchorage, AK 99503-3956
Southeast Field Office
11305 Glacier Highway
Juneau, AK 99801
Interior Field Office
3700 Airport Way
Fairbanks, AK 99709
dead trees broken branches material may
fall from a tree www.fs.fed.us/r10/spf/fhp
hot button: hazard trees
signs of disease trees leaning
more than 10° The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimi-
Dead trees (including those killed by nation in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color,
beetles, fire, insects, and disease) are national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual
orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases
apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alter-
Broken hanging branches may fall native means for communication of program information (Braille,
unexpectedly. large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET
Material may fall from a tree (including Center at (202) 720–2600 (voice and TDD).
nests) without warning. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director,
Signs of disease, especially mushrooms or Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400
conks (perennial fruiting bodies), are Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250–9410 or call
evidence of weakened tree structure. (202) 720–5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity
Leaning trees at greater than 10° from provider and employer.
vertical pose a high potential for failure. Publication No. R10–PR–12; March 2007
Hazard Trees in Alaska What You Can Do to Reduce Risk What is Your Risk?
Trees are the dominant Be observant! Examine trees in your camping or Exposure time to hazard trees varies based on the
feature of forested eco- picnic area for evidence of hazard or failure po- amount of time visitors are in one location.
systems. Every tree will tential. Take action by moving yourself and your
ultimately die, decay, and belongings to a safe area if you suspect a hazard. Minimal
be recycled into the ecosys- • Hikers spend relatively little time in one place (per-
tem to provide nutrients for Avoid all dead trees, hazardous
haps one minute).
future forests. While these trees, and the danger zone in
processes are natural, they which they may fail. Never
can pose a threat to back- picnic or camp close to a Moderate
dead tree; it could fall at • Picnickers have more exposure (one to several hours).
any time without warning.
Alaska is known as one of the Maximum
world’s premier destinations for • Campers have the longest exposure. (from many
backcountry adventure. But with hours to many days). Thus, campers have the highest
adventure comes the risk inher- potential to encounter a hazard tree.
Never underestimate the danger
ent with backcountry travel. This leaflet can help you posed by small trees. Dead trees
recognize safe backcountry behavior around trees or tree parts 6˝ in cross-section
anywhere in Alaska. have fallen and killed hikers Three Basics for Safety
What is a Hazard Tree?
The risk posed by hazard trees is often overlooked.
A hazard tree is defined by:
1. Potential risk of failure
A tree or part of a tree has a defect
(or defects) that makes it predisposed Avoid trees with excessive lean
to failure. (10° or greater) or evidence of
defect. Move yourself and
2. Potential for damage belongings to a safe area.
A tree is located so that failure
presents a threat to people or property.
What is Your Responsibility? Be especially cautious of
Land management agencies cannot remove all hazard trees in strong winds.
hazard trees in the vast public lands in Alaska, and Select a safe place to spend We hope you enjoy your
typically they only attempt to remove hazard trees the night. recreational experience
in developed areas with high public use. and remember to practice
Visitors must be aware of the dangers
Do not chop or bang into dead awareness and good
of hazard trees and take precautions,
especially in backcountry settings.
trees as the entire tree or top judgment around hazard
branches may fall on you.
trees in your travels.