Multitudes of trees across Connecticut are dead or dying due to invasive insects, major storm damage and other causes, and cities and towns throughout the state are appealing to Gov. Ned Lamont for financial help to remove them, according to a story by the Hartford Courant.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities recently sent a letter to the governor warning that recent plagues of gypsy moths and emerald ash borers are killing trees at a phenomenal rate and causing serious local public safety and fiscal problems.
Joseph DeLong, CCM’s executive director, says in the letter that the situation “is beginning to overwhelm the public works and public safety resources and budgetary capacity of many communities.”
The growing problem of millions of dead and dying trees in Connecticut was first reported by the Hartford Courant more than a year ago. Experts say trees across the state have died or soon will due to damage from repeated massive storms, years of drought and simple old age along with the invasive insects.
Max Reiss, a spokesperson for the governor, is quoted as saying in an email that “Governor Lamont’s office and [the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] have been in touch with various state agencies and CCM on a multi-pronged effort to address the effects of the ash tree infestation over the last several weeks. These efforts range from the planting of new trees, removal of those that have been devastated and collaborative approaches.” Reiss also states in the email that the governor will continue to talk with officials at CCM and local municipal leaders about this issue.
Public utilities and state highway crews have also been dealing with the huge numbers of damaged and dead trees that need to be removed. In addition to state money, DeLong urged that a working group of state agency leaders, municipal officials and utility representatives be created to deal with the problem.
“Municipal officials believe that this crisis shows no sign of abating in Connecticut,” the story quotes DeLong as stating in a news release. “This is a bona fide public safety, public health and environmental crisis for the most affected towns and cities.”
It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of roadside trees that are damaged or dead and are at risk of collapsing into the streets and highways. CCM officials say the first significant snowfall of the 2019-20 winter “could bring down hundreds of diseased trees and thousands of limbs” that put at risk many Connecticut power lines, according to the article.
The tree crisis has already had some casualties. Last year in Danbury, a man riding as a passenger in a pickup truck was killed when a huge tree fell on the vehicle. And an 11-year-old boy playing on a basketball court in Hartford’s Goodwin Park suffered a leg injury in August 2018 when a diseased tree suddenly collapsed.
CCM’s letter to the governor includes a listing of some of the communities that are spending millions of dollars to remove trees considered a potential public safety threat.
Glastonbury has had to more than double its tree work budget and now plans to spend at least $200,000 a year to take down dead, dying or damaged trees. In Middlebury, officials have spent more than $230,000 to remove dangerous trees and estimate another $230,000 will be needed to cut down another 700 dead or dying trees. Those are just two examples.
Experts interviewed by the Courant last year said that the average cost of taking down a single tree ranged from $700 to $1,000 and could be double that for a very large tree.