Protecting State’s Tree Canopy

April 28, 2016

A bill authored and introduced by State Representative Mike D’Agostino (D-Hamden) that will further protect the State’s tree canopy from unnecessary pruning and removal in cities and towns and on state roads was approved in the House of Representatives Wednesday by 145 to 1.

The legislation, HB 5150, was raised by the legislature's Environment Committee for a public hearing earlier this year following testimony by Rep. D’Agostino and advocates for the bill.

“While I am very happy with the provisions we passed - including the notice requirement to towns -- I want us to do more in terms of overseeing and stopping the wholesale deforestation that the Department of Transportation is conducting on our state roads,” Rep. D’Agostino said. “DOT has committed to work with me and the rest of the legislature to develop a comprehensive plan in the near future.”

The legislation does the following;

  • Requires, by January 31, 2017, utilities intending to conduct vegetation management to begin annually providing the tree warden or chief elected official of the town or borough where the work will occur, (1) a plan with the proposed roads or areas for vegetation management activity and (2) an estimated schedule for the work. Within 14 days after receiving the plan, the town or borough must make it publicly available for the rest of the year, either electronically or by some other method.
  • Requires utilities to remove any debris from vegetation management activities conducted in “utility protection zones” (within eight feet of either side of their wires and anywhere above or below them). The requirement applies only to projects that a utility requests and receives approval from a tree warden or other applicable authority.
  • The bill allows tree wardens to post notices of proposed shrub removal or pruning on groups of shrubs, instead of each individual shrub. By law, a warden must do this at least 10 days before removing or pruning a shrub under his or her control unless its condition requires immediate removal or pruning.

“Select tree trimming is important to ensuring a reliable electrical grid, but residents deserve advance notice and input before any work is done in their neighborhood,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). “By requiring utilities to file their trimming plans well in advance with a town, residents can find out if their street is impacted, have ample opportunity to ask questions, and appeal if they wish.”