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Microburst in Hidden Valley Preserve

On June 27th, we received a call from a hiker in Hidden Valley Preserve that trees were down on some trails, and she was “seeing sky where I usually see trees!”

Upon investigation, we discovered that a microburst from the previous day’s thunderstorms had snapped off or blew down hundreds of trees on about 15 acres of our Pine Plantation, which was planted in the late 1950s in response to flooding from Hurricane Diane.

A microburst is a sudden localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm, often with winds up to 100mph, that can cause significant damage when it nears the ground.

Our Rapid Response Team—comprised of staff, interns, and volunteers—deployed and spent a week clearing downed trees and debris from many nearby popular trails. A portion of our Pine Pass Trail (blue square) received the brunt of the downfall and has been permanently closed.

A few days later, we scrambled into the heart of the area for a closer inspection and captured the extent of the damage with drone footage. Witnessing the aftermath was a humbling experience, yet the sheer power of Nature and the damage it wrought leaves us filled with awe. And while the spires of the original pine grove will never grace this area again, Nature is resilient, and we’re excited to watch this area recover and transform into a more diverse young forest.

While much has been debated about our rapidly changing climate, Steep Rock’s preserves bear the burden of the consequences. In 2020, Tropical Storm Isaias blew over 300 trees down on our trails. In 2021, Tropical Storm Ida resulted in significant flooding. In 2022, our preserves suffered from abnormal heat and drought. And just this summer, we’ve experienced drought-like conditions, two microbursts, and flooding. What was once abnormal has become the new norm.

At Steep Rock, we are passionate about protecting what you love—even when volatile storms create blemishes on our verdant landscape. We hope our cleanup work and climate resiliency efforts bring you great satisfaction. Thank you for the pivotal role your support plays in our ability to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges we regularly confront. 

– Brian Hagenbuch, Executive Director of Steep Rock Association 

Snapped trees on Pine Pass trail after the microburst
Our response team working on clearing the trail
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