State Vegetation Management Task Force Makes Final Recommendations to Improve Roadside Forest Resiliency and Power Reliability

Sep 4th, 2012 | By | Category: General

The State Vegetation Management Task Force, which examined issues regarding the maintenance of trees along the state’s roads and electrical power lines, has recommended steps the state, municipalities, utilities, and property owners can take to improve the resiliency of roadside trees and forests against future catastrophic weather events while ensuring the reliability of the state’s power grid.  The Task Force was formed in April by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel C. Esty, in response to a recommendation made by Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel which had been convened to study the state’s response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm.

“This Task Force provides thoughtful recommendations for improving the stewardship of Connecticut’s roadside forests and treasured urban forest canopy while enhancing the state’s ability to keep the lights on,” said Commissioner Esty.  “We will assess the recommendations of the Task Force to see how they can be applied to help preserve our beautiful roadside forest while protecting our electrical power infrastructure.”

In presenting its recommendations, Task Force Chairman Eric Hammerling of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association said, “The fact that a group with such diverse perspectives was able to reach consensus on a path forward should carry considerable weight.  It’s significant that so many committed people worked together to propose ways to make the roads safer, keep healthy trees along our roads, and reduce the risks of damage from future storms.  I applaud Governor Malloy and Commissioner Esty for their commitment to this open, public process.  We sincerely believe that Connecticut’s roadside forests will be better managed if these recommendations are implemented.”

Some of the key recommendations include:

Statewide Recommendations

  • “Right Tree, Right Place” guidelines must be used for planting trees and shrubs in roadside forest areas.  The concept of “Right Tree, Right Place” is that tree selection should be matched to the particular conditions at a given site.  This includes planting trees that have short mature heights close to utilities and roads while allowing progressively taller trees further from roads and wires.
  • Roadside forests must be managed to become more storm resistant over time through a combination of tree pruning, removals, and “Right Tree, Right Place” planting.  The Task Force recognizes the importance of large trees in the current and future roadside forest and the many benefits of tall trees – assuming proper maintenance – should also be considered in all planting decisions.
  • Property owners should be made more aware of the stewardship required to properly maintain trees.
  • Informational resources about roadside forests should be centralized in a logical place for landowners, municipalities, businesses, and others.

Municipality Recommendations

  • Municipalities should develop five-year roadside management plans that include tree pruning and removal guidelines along public roads, including standards for tree planting that include the avoidance of overhead and underground power and communication lines.
  • All municipality tree wardens should be certified as to their qualifications within one year of being appointed to the position.
  • All trees planted within the public right-of-way and on municipal property should be reviewed and approved by the town tree warden.

Funding Recommendations

  • The state should provide “one-time” funding at the level of $100,000 per town for two years ($16.9 million per year) to assist in tree maintenance and the establishment of five-year municipal roadside forest management plans.


The State Vegetation Management Task Force was convened by DEEP Commissioner Esty at the recommendation of Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel, which itself was formed in response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 snow storm.

The Task Force consisted of twenty individuals, each appointed by the DEEP Commissioner for their expertise in a field related to roadside trees.  The Task Force was assigned the responsibility of producing specific standards and guidelines regarding management of the trees along Connecticut’s roadsides.

The Final Report including all recommendations may be found on the Task Force web page by selecting this link at the top of the page.  Information about the Task Force, membership and meeting summaries is also included on this web page.

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