Wildlife Tree/Snag
(Dead Wood)

* Permit may be required: If desired placement is located below the annual high water level, a CWA 404 permit and/or a floodplain permit may be required.


  • Hollow log or dead tree with branches attached
  • Boulders
  • Duckbill anchor, cable & rod set
  • 1-3′ diameter limbs

* Heavy equipment may be required: YES if burying is required & tree requires a hole that is larger than feasible by hand, an excavator is needed. NO if hole can be hand dug or anchors can be used instead.


  • Shovel
  • Sledgehamer
  • Fasteners/Hardware

A “Wildlife Tree” is a secured dead tree that can provide valuable wildlife habitat and shelter while reducing the potential for flood debris. These are also sometimes referred to as wildlife “snags.” Lasting benefits include:

  • Minimized potential of hazardous dead wood flood debris
  • Natural wildlife habitat/shelter
  • Natural food source

Photo courtesy of BHA Design

Creating a Wildlife Tree is a great way to re-use large dead woody material on your property. This material may have been left on streambanks on your property by a flood event, or maybe some of your trees have simply died.

As discussed in the ‘Large Woody Material’ section, these dead trees are highly valued homes and food sources for wildlife. You will want to make sure that these dead trees do not become debris in the next flood event. With proper planning and attachment methods, you can create a secured place for birds, mammals, insects and amphibians to call home. If you have standing dead trees, it is safe to leave them standing as long as they are secure and don’t threaten people or structures.

Step 1: Identify the wood you will use…

…and the location you will install the Wildlife Tree.

Step 2: Determine how you will install your wood (Bury or Anchor):

Burying for tree stabilization

If you have large boulders available, or if you would like the wildlife tree to be partially buried, you should consider the Burying method. This method is also better for areas closer to the stream. However, this method may require digging machinery depending on the necessary hole size.

Burying for tree stabilization instructions

Dig a hole long enough for 1/3 of the tree to fit in.

Lower one end of tree inside of hole and bury with compacted soil.

Add additional branches and weigh down with boulders around the top.

Anchoring for tree stabilization

Depending on your site conditions, the Anchoring method may be better for you. Rather than digging a trench/hole to bury part of the tree, duckbill (or similar) anchors are driven into the ground. This method is also more suitable for upland areas further away from the stream.
Photo courtesy of: Arctic Wire Rope [page 189]

Anchoring for tree stabilization instructions

Use the steel rod to drive duckbill anchor(s) into the ground.

Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for depth & installation specifics.

Secure anchor cable(s) to tree.

Wrap around trunk or use hardware such as an eye screw. 

Finishing Steps Compact soil around project site.

Test for tree stabilityit should not shift when rocked by hand.

Plant or seed disturbed ground around the tree.

Do’s & Don’ts of Wildlife Trees/Snags



Re-use dead woody material that is already on your property


Place the wildlife tree well outside of the annual high water level of the stream


Regularly check that anchoring hardware (bolts, cables, etc.) are secure and intact.



Don’t place the wildlife tree where you do not want wildlife to live (i.e. next to a dog run)


Don’t place the wildlife tree in the stream channel

More Strategies to help accomplish Objectives you identified in the Questionnaires: