Connecticut Task Force Advises Stepping Up Municipal Tree Care

Connecticut (August 20, 2012) – A year after tropical storm Irene battered Connecticut and its trees, a post-storm task force looking at power outages, roadside urban forests, and transmission lines has recommended that rather than utility companies, municipalities should be responsible for trees and roadside tree care. The Task Force concludes that trees and other large vegetation along Connecticut roads have been ignored for decades, making them potentially more hazardous. They are calling for a five-year plan of tree management that includes “right tree, right place” principles.

Task Force members are united behind holistic tree care.  They want communities to choose trees suited to their surroundings, especially in highly urban areas, and in some locations moving toward a “amphitheater effect,” planting low trees under power lines and taller ones further back.

The Task Force recommends that the state allocate $100,000 per community each year for two years—for a total of $16.9 million annually. And it calls on additional resources from cities and towns for trees, arguing that they are not doing enough.

Connecticut cities and towns spend about $10.5 million annually on tree work, with nearly two-thirds of spending less than $3 per capita on tree care, and half of those spend less than $1. The tree budget for power companies was about $30 million/year, and is expected to increase to $50 million.

Increasingly, all-volunteer, nonprofits like Milford Trees are stepping in to fill the void where municipalities have not been attentive to urban forest management and tree care. The Task Force is encouraging more nonprofit/government volunteer tree operations to engage the public and get Connecticut on track.

In the past dozen years, Milford Trees has planted about 60 trees a year through donations, contributions, and a modest $600 annual from the Milford Tree Commission.  In Hartford, since the mid-1970s the nonprofit Knox Parks has done tree planting and minor maintenance, placing some 3,500 trees, not including a 1,000-tree effort under way this year. And in New Haven, the Urban Resources Initiative has used about 1,000 volunteers a year to plant, maintain, inventory, and map trees in their city.

Related Resources
Task force recommendation: more municipal care for trees
Milford Trees
Knox Parks
Urban Resources Initiative