Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Louisiana Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. The damage then was limited to mainly large timber and the storm blew down large strands of large pine trees. Sixteen years later (8-29-21) to the day, Hurricane Ida made landfall in almost the same place. Unlike with Katrina, during Ida a lot of small, scattered trees as well as big ones went down.
Gaston Lanaux III, of Husser, is a professional forester of 52 years and a lifetime board member of Louisiana Forestry Association and past board president of the association. Lanaux recalled how some 15-year-old trees survived Hurricane Katrina, only to be taken down by Hurricane Ida as 30-year-old trees. “Anything 15 years and up that was on commercial forest land that was planted and thinned before Ida hit, those stands have been pretty much totally devastated,” he said.
Lanaux did note one particular difference between the Katrina and Ida: The ground was fairly dry and firm before Katrina hit. Although some were blown over, most trees snapped he said. “This time, the ground was so wet that they just fell over,” he said.
Whitney Wallace, associate agent of LSU AgCenter, said the damaging effects of Hurricane Ida’s winds on damage, mortality, and recovery of tree populations is being assessed. “The LSU AgCenter projects the biggest agricultural economic losses will be from downed timber and destroyed infrastructure,” she said. “Many state agencies along with the USFS are working together to assess the total value lost for commercial timber.”
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Timber industry takes hit from Ida