The ice storm of March 1-5,1976, of perhaps once in a century severity, hit the UWM Field Station with ice loads up to 2 in. thick. The crowns of many trees, especially older beech and maple, were literally torn asunder by the sheer weight. In the swamp forest most tamaracks had their tops snapped off. The beech-maple forest of course was one of the Nature Conservancy's first major projects in Wisconsin, one of the jewels of the Scientific Areas System, and fortunately one of the most thoroughly studied tracts in the state. We had excellent pre-storm data on the forest composition and nesting bird populations, small mammal utilization, studies on biomass, water and mineral flows, corticolous lichens, etc. Preliminary estimates within a few days of the storm showed probably 50% of the former tree canopy on the ground, which certainly will result in drastic changes in the ecosystem as a whole. We have initiated a thorough inventory of the damage in both upland and swamp forests, recording breakage by species and size class, etc. We propose to follow up on as many aspects of the aftermath as we can get the manpower for, over a period of at least a decade. After our initial disbelief and shock at the appalling force of nature, we realized that this is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for major research into one of Nature's grand experiments.
Matthiae, P.E. and P.B. Whitford. 1975. The March ice storm: disaster and opportunity. 8(2): 1-2.