CL&P has just announced plans to cut down trees on private and public property along the New Haven railroad line. Private property owners have the right to determine whether their trees should be cut or pruned. We the Greenwich Tree Conservancy are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the tree and forest resources of Greenwich, which benefit the community, its health and the quality of life of its citizens. We are therefore concerned by the recent press release regarding this tree removal program along the New Haven Commuter rail line —from Stamford through Old Greenwich and Riverside—proposed to minimize train and power disruption from trees downed by aggressive storms. This program includes state, town and private property and will begin on February 7.
The Tree Conservancy is very sensitive to the community-wide need to keep trees healthy so they may withstand the ravages of future storms and not succumb to heavy winds, again witnessed this week, that can lead to downed power lines; we live here too and are also uncomfortable during power outages. We are equally sensitive to the role that trees play in our ecosystem and how vital they are in reducing air pollutant particulates, minimizing radiant heat from the sun, inhibiting soil erosion, sequestering carbon dioxide, and providing a habitat for a plethora of diverse species critical to maintaining a healthy environment. In addition to the science behind the importance of trees and the market value they add to private property, the sheer and undeniable beauty they impart on our landscape has long been celebrated by a pantheon of artistic giants, several of whom hail from Greenwich (e.g., Ernest Thompson Seton, Leonard Ochtman).
The Tree Conservancy does support the removal of sick and unhealthy trees and invasive species, which we deem “hazardous,” which is why we submitted testimony at the recent budget hearing in support of funding the town’s “At Risk Tree Removal Program”. We do not support the removal of healthy trees, which is the current plan: to remove all trees that, in falling, might touch power lines along the railway. Trees are pivotal to a healthy New England environment; they define the ecosystem which we inhabit, they are the habitat.
Owners of private property again have the right to determine whether their trees may be cut or pruned. We hope that the Town of Greenwich and its citizens show prudence in which trees we allow CL&P to sacrifice, because it is our choice as citizens, especially on our own property. We have the ability to say no. Once these living entities are gone, so are the thousands of organisms that call these trees home.
We support our trees rights and hope they are given a fair trial and that members of the jury not include only the DOT, Metro North and CL&P, but also the Town of Greenwich’s Tree Warden and other tree experts who can best diagnose the health of a tree and assess its ability to survive another storm. We suggest that trees on town property be duly tagged so the Tree Warden can conduct a public hearing for those trees. We also hope that private property owners will limit the removal of their trees to those that do represent a real threat to the community. Removal of a large number of trees along a corridor such as this can also result in increasing wind velocity vectors enough to increase the collateral damage of nearby trees and properties.
We the Greenwich Tree Conservancy are always available as resource to our fellow citizens. If you have questions, concerns, and/or comments, please do not hesitate to contact any one of us, the lives of trees and those who live in them and from them, depend on our due diligence.
The Board of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy
JoAnn Messina, Executive Director