Following is a letter from Orange resident Bruce Lindsay, a member of the Orange Tree Committee, licensed arborist and Westport Tree Warden:
The Town of Orange has not had an active Tree Warden in more than nine months. No appointed tree expert monitoring the recently discovered Emerald Ash Borer, to manage United Illuminating (UI) or work with the town’s Tree Committee,Public Works or Parks Department. So who’s minding the town’s trees?
In 1901 the Connecticut legislature passed a law mandating the appointment of a “tree warden” in all municipalities. This person then has care and control over all municipal public trees and shrubs in that community.
Here are some facts in CT General Statutes, from Title 23 which supports the tree warden:
§23-58. appointment; The selectmen of each town… shall, within thirty days of their election, appoint a town warden.
§23-59. Powers. The town tree warden shall have the care and control of all trees and shrubs. Whenever… public safety demands the removal or pruning of any tree or shrub… The tree warden shall…ten days before such removal, post thereon a suitable notice.
§23-65. Regulations. Permit.
(b) Any person, firm or corporation…who removes, prunes, injures or defaces any shade tree…without written
permission of the town tree warden, may be ordered by the court in any action brought by the (The Town.)
(f) Any person, firm or corporation, other than a tree warden, who desires the cutting or removal…of any tree or shrub…, may apply in writing to the town tree warden. Upon receipt of such permit, but not before, they may proceed with such cutting or removal.
The Orange Town Charter:
Chapter 360, § 360-4 Town Tree Warden:
A. …The Town Tree Warden shall be appointed by the First Selectman… for a term of two years. The Town Tree Warden shall be a licensed arborist and shall have all powers, duties and authorities ascribed to tree wardens in Connecticut.
The United Illuminating Company (UI) began a pilot program, called Enhanced Tree Trimming (ETT) and Removal (ETR), in January to prune and remove trees on their backbone utility lines. They prune and/or remove all vegetation eight feet to the right and left of the top wires on their poles from ground to sky.
This program went unmonitored, unpermitted and without proper posting by a Tree Warden. Miles of roads and hundreds of town trees were hastily pruned or removed. This program has met tremendous opposition in Fairfield, West Haven and Hamden where there are active tree wardens and a concerned public interest.
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native invasive insect, was discovered in Orange early this summer in the ball fields beside Town Hall. They infest and destroy an Ash tree in 2-3 years. Ash constitute ~5% of the town’s trees. These trees require diligent management plans and swift removals as EAB can destroy tree budgets.
Trees provide for our town’s rural aesthetics, raise home values, generate oxygen, sequester CO2, reduce storm water runoff, slow traffic and cool our homes. The Town of Orange needs a Tree Warden to efficiently manage our trees, real estate values and public safety to fulfill state and local responsibilities.
So what’s happening to our trees? Who’s monitoring UI? Why isn’t there a Tree Warden?