Everyone is aware of the ongoing tree work along roadways and power lines here in Easton.  With increasingly powerful storms that cause branches to break and trees to take down power lines, state and local officials have stepped up the complicated and expensive process to manage the power disruption and danger that falling tree parts present.  

In addition to more storms, trees are facing drought, disease and insects, making them sicker and more likely to deteriorate or die. Every town in the state is facing an unprecedented crisis in dealing with tree deterioration, especially along thoroughfares, where falling trees can spell disaster.  

That’s why across the state, towns are scrambling to find the funding and other resources needed to deal with large numbers of trees that need to be removed.  

The problem managing trees along power lines and roadways has only sharpened since the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native insect which began attacking all species of ash trees in Michigan in 2002, with infestation reaching Western Connecticut around 2012.  

According to Claire Rutledge, an entomologist working with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, we can expect to lose all ash trees in the next 10 to 12 years.  Richard Dina, Easton’s tree warden, has noted in a recent letter to United Illuminating, the “… potential/imminent danger to persons and property from declining and dead ash trees …” 

Diseased or dead trees will fall on their own if they are not removed, endangering not only power lines, but people.  

Dina thinks it urgent that we speed up tree removal and not stand by until July or later when UI work is scheduled to begin removing all ash trees within their purview (eight to 10 feet from power lines, the Utility Protection Zone.)  

He said that Easton may be able to help the UI effort by providing traffic control and wood removal after the trees are downed.  If the town can provide such assistance, Dina believes UI could start ash tree removal this winter.  

Connecticut towns have to cover the costs of removing ash trees.  Easton presently budgets about $150,000 annually for tree work, not enough to cover the growing costs of the ash tree crisis.  

Dina is sounding the alarm, pressuring UI’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), as well as state legislators to get involved at the state level, helping to find the crews and trucks needed to address the serious problems created by the sudden decline and death of Connecticut’s ash trees in the Utility Protection Zone.     

Dick Dina, Easton tree warden, oversees the felling of an ash tree on Mile Common Road. — Cleo Sonneborn Photo
Crews meet the challenging task of felling trees that threaten power lines in Easton.– Cleo Sonneborn Photo
Diseased ash trees felled in the Utility Protection Zone (UPZ) –Cleo Sonneborn Photo
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By Cleo Rawdon Sonneborn

Community Journalist

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