Pat Shingleton for Feb. 21, 2013

After a severe storm, and especially a hurricane, routines include debris cleanup. Storm-damaged trees are salvaged for firewood while acres of downed and broken trees are cut and hauled. The National Science Foundation determined the recovery of a forest is hindered by this common practice. Harvard’s Forest Long-Term Ecological Research Site in Massachusetts conducted an experiment in forest restoration. The experiment began in 1990 when a team of scientists re-created a hurricane by toppling 80 percent of the trees in a 2-acre patch of mature oaks. Replicating a storm, the site was impassable with dead and damaged wood on the ground. In the 20 years since, seedlings thrived, intermingled with an addition of black birch and red maples. Ecologists contend devastation rejuvenates the ecosystem. Fastcast: Wet again.