To lead on climate, Connecticut must protect our trees!

Disappointment sprang anew when Gov. Ned Lamont commented on Nov. 1 “I know my phone lights up every time DOT is trimming those trees along the highways; every time Eversource is cutting back on trees along the power wires. At least I think you now understand why they do it, why it’s important, to prevent issues like this going forward,”

His comment fed the fear of trees that seems to be widespread. It played directly into the hands of the utility companies and the state DOT that want to remove trees wherever possible, regardless of their health.

This was a missed opportunity to remind the public that we are in a climate crisis. He could have advised the public of his newly released Executive Order #3 calling for “strengthening Connecticut’s Efforts to Mitigate Climate Change.” It was an opportunity for him to re-state his belief that “Climate change is an urgent, existential threat that must be tackled immediately and under the leadership of this administration I am going to see to it that Connecticut remains a national leader on climate action.”

It was a missed opportunity to call upon the public to embrace a broad new strategy that includes harnessing and using the power of our trees to help us fight the effects of climate change, to make our communities more resilient and to show his understanding of the important role trees play in fighting climate change.

It was a chance to confirm that dead and diseased trees must be removed and healthy trees must be retained, with minimal trimming as needed, as every healthy tree is an asset that provides essential benefits to the citizens of Connecticut every day.

It was an opportunity to explain to the people of Connecticut that trees are our best natural ally in the fight against climate change, which is why nations across the globe are planting billions of trees in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, the more trees we remove from along our highways and in our neighborhoods, the more extreme the weather is likely to become and the more severe the impact will be.

We have good reason to worry about the fate of our tree population. Connecticut has lost thousands of trees over the past couple of years from pest infestations, severe weather, development, and the actions of private property owners and utility companies. In 2016, statewide, 11,043 trees were removed by the utilities of which 703, (6.4%) were classified as hazardous trees.  The rest, 10,340 trees, were NOT HAZARDOUS and should NOT have been removed!

The extreme weather we are now experiencing is having a catastrophic impact on our state, and we cannot ignore the massive economic, environmental, and human costs. The 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it abundantly clear that the climate crisis, which is exacerbating this weather, threatens the safety of all life on earth as we know it.

The CT DOT and the utility companies must now be required to comply with the governor’s new executive order and reflect its intent in all future tree work<strong>. </strong>This Executive Order establishes a high standard for tree wardens, builds in accountability, and makes clear that utilities have legal, environmental, aesthetic and community obligations as they go about their work. This includes evaluating the health of each tree and obtaining tree permits and abutting property owner consent for any work they perform in the Utility Protection Zone (UPZ), unless there is an immediate danger creating an emergency.

Greater restraint in removing trees must become the rule, focusing on removing dead and hazardous trees and replanting to help offset the cost of their previous massive tree removal programs.   Failure to do so will be a willful act of negligence by these agencies who claim that safety is a primary concern.

For our own sake and our children’s future, we must demand an end to the now radically dangerous acceptance of “business as usual.”   We are counting on the governor to become the knowledgeable, articulate, and persistent climate advocate we so urgently need.

Diane Hoffman is a representative of the Hamden Alliance for Trees.

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  1. How quickly we forget the impacts of the 2011 and 2012 storms. One of the main reasons we have had less outages is the improved tree trimming and tree removal activities of the EDC’s and DOT.

    1. We had fewer outages years ago. Would like to see the statistics comparing outages now and 10 or 20 years ago. Here in eastern CT we get outages when there’s a strong breeze. Think we have a utility company that is using low quality materials or perhaps shoddy installation practices. But most of all, it’s the same “wire and pole” technology that was used in the 1800s…. where’s the creativity…. the innovation?

      1. I know it’s not very funny when we get bad t-storms or even tornado’s or heavy snow/ice storms that take down some trees .. What do you think it would be like if we got hit with 120 MPH hurricane winds? CT would be in deep DoDo folks. This state and those all around us shut down for months or longer. Look at these killers everytime you go for your Sunday drives and realize in your head if they were suddenly blocking every doad, possibly even the highways too ?? Just let that sink in for a while!!!

  2. We have so many thousands of dead Ash trees from a blight I’m not sure what kind of selective facts this person is using or whether things are monumentally different in Hamden than they are here in Redding.

    1. They are different in every town and state for sure Laurie .. Bugs and gypsy moths are a serious factor as is old age in so many trees. It may well be something we will just have to get used to until trees are ( and I hate to say this ) Genetically altered against these bugs and such are eliminated !! 🙁

  3. Trees are the lungs of our earth. We must limit international deforestation. It is the genesis of excessive CO2 in our atmosphere. Trees consume CO2, as a matter of fact, they thrive on it. Maybe is is time to use steel, composites and cement to build and furnish our homes. The use of lumber and wood is making this problem even greater. Save the trees, save our earth!

    1. This state has one of the highest ratios of forest to lands owned, at the turn of the century very little forests remained because so many timberes were used for ship and home building not to mention charcoal production and as a former logger I have seed the charcoal pits that were used!! Loggers in this day have so many restrictions put on them , some good and some no so good..

    2. One more thing, trees only make up a small part of oxygen production. Remember it’s the amount of surface of the leaves that are actually green and for a limited time each year but the grasslands and all the flowers and kelp and such probably make much more oxygen and eat CO2 ! I really don’t know the actual scale of these things but I do know the trees are Not alone in this conversion.. Remember this fact , wood and wood fiber is used in so much today that we may not be able to stop using it for many years till some new and amazing products are safely introduced to manufacturers!! And that is a true fact !!!!

  4. The DEEP does a very poor job at surveying trees affected by disease or insect pestilence. This pestilence includes the emerald ash borer & gypsy moth & now we have the lantern fly just a little south of the state. Vegetation serves as the 2nd largest carbon sink. Yes one has to cut branches over wires but the state is only reactive when it comes to pestilence.

    1. The DEEP does a great job but there is only so much money to use on cleaning them up! Cutting the trees dow do not get rid of the bugs, they just jump off and move on! No one wants crazy pesticides sprayed in the air, the DEEPs of many states are all in the same boat.. They just need time to get something safe to use on all trees !!

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