UKTC Archive

Re: Dead Oak Tree

Subject: Re: Dead Oak Tree
From: Wayne Tyson
Date: Jul 23 2020 20:22:00
Nudge "tests" themselves can add to the sum of the forces acting upon the
structure. *Theoretically*, they might have the effect of contributing to
the buildup, in time, of still-living tissues placed under stress, possibly
adding strength to the structure, but also could weaken it by rupturing
dead and living parts. There is no way to *know* which, or to what degree
the "test" might produce such effects. I suspect that the latter effect is
more likely to occur than the former. Since there is no way to *measure*
the effects upon the structure, it necessarily falls into the realm of
guesswork and presumption.

Intuitively, because of the direction of lean, I suspect the risk is
relatively low, but not non-existent. I share your concern about the dead
part overhanging the fraction of the "kill zone" opposite the direction of
the lean. I share the "hope" that whatever failures occur will cause no
harm. I do not believe that every dead or declining tree should be cut
down--in fact, when I was a U. S. Forest Service tree surveyor in my youth,
I narrowly escaped death, from a "widow-maker" while working in windy
conditions. I was aware of the risk, both in that instance and in general,
of doing that work and accepted it--my family would have had no standing or
cause to sue the government. In addition, I was "on notice" of the
potentially hazardous nature of the work. I saw the body of a logger who
had bad luck, his crushed hard hat placed over the part where his head had
been. A colleague was killed by a falling tree under different
circumstances. The "risk" in these cases was "relatively" low.

I have a case on file that occurred in my county where a failure of a
"live" tree (a live-oak) on the edge of, and leaning over, a rural road
that killed a man driving his car past the tree at the "wrong" time. It was
decreed "an act of God." The indications of potential were there, but
"subtle" to the unpracticed eye. I have photographs of this on file. If
anyone is interested, I could email copies.


On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 2:39 AM Tahir Sharif <> wrote:


I am the owner. I will try a nudge test with the telehandler and prune
any limbs that could potentially fall onto the road. There are many long
dead oak trees locally that haven't killed anyone but I'm concerned as
this is on a public footpath. It's limbs that I'm worried about really
as I'm pretty certain that if it falls it'll fall across the stream into
the field behind.


On 22/07/2020 21:48, Wayne Tyson wrote:
I no not what y'all would do in the UK, but here in the US, I would send
the owner a certified (notarized?) letter advising that the tree is a
potential hazard to life, limb, and property. I believe the legal eagles
here call that "actual notice." The owner may already be under
"constructive" notice, but I ain't no lawyer . . . If the owner does not
abate the nuisance, his/her legal position might be different. If I were
the owner, I would grant a "life of the tree" right-of-way to those
to preserve the tree, and let them decide the best course of action,
expressing a willingness to abate--that might shift the liability, but I
don't really *know*.

No one can predict *when* a tree is going to lose a branch or fall, but
should be the job of the tree professional to opine regarding the fact
limbs and trees *do* eventually fall. The degree of relative "risk" that
any such failure(s) might do damage to persons or property is an exercise
of voodoo that I eschew.


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The UKTC forum is supported by Bosky Trees arboricultural consultancy and
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