Statewide Tree Damage

Look up and watch out for hazardous trees while visiting the woods in our state’s forests, parks and wildlife management areas.

Click here for information on ongoing hazard tree mitigation projects

Several years of severe storms and drought resulting from our changing climate and major insect infestations have left many damaged or dead trees in forests and residential areas. Damaged, dead, and diseased trees can fall without warning, potentially causing injury or property damage. As you hike the trails or visit picnic areas and campgrounds, be extra cautious:

  • Look up and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Be particularly watchful when it is windy or when branches are covered with snow.
  • Avoid parking, picnicking, camping, hiking, and hunting in areas where dead trees or dead limbs are more likely to fall.
  • Walk around, not over, downed limbs and trees. 

While the chances of being struck by a falling tree or branch are low, being vigilant while in the woods can reduce the odds even more.  

What Happened?

  1. Storms in spring 2018, including nor’easters in March and tornadoes in some parts of the state in May, have left their share of broken limbs and dead and downed trees. 
  2. The invasive, exotic emerald ash borer was discovered in Connecticut in 2012 and has been spreading across the state. This insect is inevitably fatal to ash trees.  Although ash trees are not a large component of Connecticut’s forests, they are somewhat common along roadways and in residential areas. 
  3. A spongy moth outbreak began in 2015 in eastern and central Connecticut. It persisted through 2017, enabled by serious drought in 2015 and 2016.  The drought by itself was enough to kill trees. Coupled with the spongy moth infestation, even more trees died, especially the large oak trees that are so valued in our forests.

Widespread oak mortality, particularly in eastern Connecticut, began in summer 2017 and continued through 2018.  By summer 2018, the leaves on many oak trees began to turn brown. This was caused by another insect, the two-lined chestnut borer, which attacks and kills vulnerable oak trees stressed by previous defoliations. This loss of oak trees is likely to continue into 2019.

The Good News

Despite the loss of so many trees, our forests are still healthy.  A forest is more than just trees. It includes the animals, other plants, soils, landscape, and the many processes that stitch these individual items together. One way to assess the health of a forest is to observe how it recovers from disturbance. New trees and shrubs will grow in the openings created by dead and downed trees. Standing dead trees, known as snags, provide roosting sites for hawks and habitat for cavity-using birds (woodpeckers, wood ducks, some owls, and more), amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, such as squirrels. Insects and fungi thrive on downed wood, also aiding in their decomposition back to the soil. Brush piles created by downed trees and branches provide cover and homes for a variety of wildlife, including chipmunks, rabbits and snakes.

Keeping the Forests Open

DEEP is taking steps to address damaged, diseased, and dead trees, particularly in high-use areas. You may see trees marked with a dot of orange paint in picnic areas, around parking lots, and along major trails. These trees are slated for removal – please stay away from them. 

You are encouraged to visit our parks, forests, and wildlife management areas, but it is important to keep in mind there is always a certain element of risk in using natural areas. Taking precautions is prudent while you enjoy the wonderful natural resources that our state has to offer.

DEEP Hazard Tree Mitigation Project – Interim project update and communications plan

DEEP’s Hazard Tree Mitigation Program is undergoing review. We are working to strengthen our internal processes while also considering how to bolster our external communications with the public, stakeholders, and local public officials regarding the program. While that review is underway, we still have hazard trees to address for public safety reasons. 

While our review of this program is pending, interim steps that we will take include engagement in a more robust internal review process on each proposed hazard tree mitigation project with outreach to potentially impacted agency programs such as wildlife, fisheries and forestry; identification of and outreach to stakeholder groups who may have an interest in any of these specific projects; enhanced information on the agency’s website about the project locations and scope of work details; new, improved signage regarding the project to be put in place at each of these locations; and a point of contact for each project in the event questions or concerns arise by members of the public. 

This webpage includes that enhanced information regarding ongoing hazard tree mitigation projects.

DEEP held a public meeting on March 15, 2022 and sought comments from the public to assist with DEEP’s development of a Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy. Written comments were submitted directly to DEEP at deep.hazardtrees@ct.gov on or before March 29, 2022, by 4:00 PM Eastern Time. Public Notice / View Emailed Public Comments Recording of Public Meeting  (Disclaimer: This is an unofficial transcript, it is computer-generated and may contain typos that have not been edited.)

DEEP held a second public meeting on July 11, 2022. View 
DEEP's Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy.  View Emailed Public Comments (CEQ Comments). You can also view the recording of the public meeting.  Please note there is an unofficial, computer generated transcript and it may contain typos that have not been edited. 

DEEP FINAL Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy Posted. DEEP is notifying the public that the FINAL Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy is available for review. View the final public notice and policy here.

The following hazard tree removal projects are ongoing or will be commencing in the near future:
 

Project Location: Chatfield Hollow State Park, Killingworth, CT

  • Project Details:Remove approximately 200 trees within the contact limit line for a paving improvement project at Chatfield Hollow State Park for the following reasons:  trees are already impeding existing pavement, trees that are already approaching impeding the existing pavement (in 5 years or less), trees that are currently impeding drainage structures, documented hazard trees (dead or dying), 50 trees slated for removal to expand existing parking lot by park entrance.
  • Project Area and Potential Public Safety Risk: All trees are in the immediate area of the existing paved travel way within Chatfield Hollow State Park or in the proposed expansion area of the existing parking lot near the entrance.  
  • Type of Removal: Trees will be felled using a variety of mechanical equipment (Sonneboggen, aerial bucket) and ground felling (chainsaw) techniques.
  • Impacts to Public Access: There will be minor interruptions to public access, to facilitate safety, during tree removal.  The immediate area, subject to tree removal activities, will be closed for the duration of the active removal. 
  • NDDB: NDDB Determination 202305884 is in place and all recommendations will be implemented. 
  • Heritage Trees: No Heritage Trees were identified. 
  • Project Timeframe: Between November 1, 2023 and March 1, 2024.

Project Location: Goodwin Conservation Center, Hampton, CT

  • Project Details:Remove three hazard trees posing a public safety concern.  Two are adjacent to a public parking lot and town road (Potter Road) -- a white oak (dead) and an ash (dead).  One is adjacent to the museum and a town road -- an ash (dying)
  • Project Area and Potential Public Safety Risk: All trees are in the immediate area of a public parking lot and town road.  
  • Type of Removal: Trees will be felled using an aerial bucket truck and hand felling (chainsaw) techniques.  All brush will be chipped and removed from the site. 
  • Impacts to Public Access: There will be minor interruptions to public access, to facilitate safety, during tree removal.  The immediate area, subject to tree removal activities, will be closed for the duration of the active removal. 
  • NDDB:No NDDB conflict
  • Heritage Trees: No Heritage Trees were identified during the hazard tree identification. 
  • Project Timeframe: Between December 7, 2023 and March 31, 2024. 

Project Location: Marine District Headquarters, Old Lyme, CT

  • Project Details: Remove approximately 53 hazard trees to address public safety, infrastructure concerns or invasive trees.  Hazard trees are located near the overflow (winter) parking lot, along the edge of Ferry Road and in the north and south picnic areas.  Additional trees will be mitigated, as they are interfering with infrastructure (Buildings 1 and 2).  Three trees on the north end of the existing ADA boardwalk (near marina) shall be removed to allow for the reconstruction of this boardwalk in 2024.  30 of the trees are invasive (Tree of Heaven); these are near Shippee Pond. 
  • Project Area and Potential Public Safety Risk: All trees are in the immediate area of a public road, parking lot, picnic area and boardwalk, or are in the immediate area of employee buildings, parking lot and fueling station.  
  • Type of Removal: Trees will be felled using bucket truck and from the ground (chain saw).  All brush will be chipped and removed from the site.
  • Impacts to Public Access: There will be minor interruptions to public access, to facilitate safety, during tree removal.  The immediate area, subject to tree removal activities, will be closed for the duration of the active removal. 
  • NDDB: NDDB Determination 202309308 is in place and all recommendations will be implemented. 
  • Heritage Trees: No Heritage Trees were identified during the hazard tree identification. 
  • Project Timeframe: Between December 11, 2023 and March 31, 2024.

Project Location: Pachaug State Forest, Wildfire Risk Reduction, Voluntown, CT

  • Project Details:In early 2023, DEEP Forestry personnel marked 3,774 trees which posed hazard to over 8.5 miles of roads and trails, which act as essential fire control lines throughout Pachaug State Forest.  Marked trees are generally oaks which were killed due to defoliation by spongy moth caterpillar, drought, and other factors.  Additionally, the marking captures deferred maintenance trees which have succumb to other stressors, and rotten, hollow, or otherwise structurally compromised trees which are presently alive but unsafe. 
  • Project Area: Project will occur within the Stone Hill and Greenfalls Blocks of Pachaug State Forest.  The areas were ranked as priority 3 & 4 sites for Wildfire Risk Reduction work based on widespread oak mortality, presence of flashy fuels known to present fire control problems, and a historical record of large wildfires in the vicinity.
  • Potential Public Safety Risk:There is a current and ongoing public safety risk in this portion of the State Forest – which is open to the public and actively used for recreation.  There is an even greater risk to local and DEEP firefighters tasked with responding to this area to suppress periodic brush fires.  There is currently high exposure to snags – standing dead trees – which already represent the 2nd leading cause of death on wildfires.
  • Type of Removal: Trees <17” DBH will generally be felled with mechanical tree felling equipment.  Trees >17” DBH will be felled by hand or using combined mechanical/hand-felling techniques.
  • Impacts to Public Access:There will be extremely minor interruptions to public access to facilitate safety during tree removal.  The immediate area subject to tree removal will be closed for the duration of the removal activity.  Due to the scale of the project and the pace of tree felling, segment closures are expected to be very short.  Trails will be re-opened as soon as tree felling in the immediate area has ceased – likely within the same day.
  • NDDB: NDDB Determination 202303878 is in place and all recommendations will be implemented. 
  • Heritage Trees: No Heritage Trees were identified during the hazard tree identification. 
  • Project Timeframe:In all the project will take several weeks to complete.  Tree felling occurs at a rate nearing 100 trees per day, suggesting roughly 100 working days or 20 weeks to accomplish the entire project.

 

Project Location: Salt Rock State Forest Campground, Baltic, CT

  • Project Details:Remove 1 large white pine at Salt Rock State Forest.  This tree is in declining health with significant rot, visible toward the base.
  • Project Area and Potential Public Safety Risk: The hazard tree is in a high use public recreation area within Salt Rock State Forest.  It is in close proximity to a playground, swimming pool, parking lot, and restroom. 
  • Type of Removal: Tree will be felled using an aerial bucket truck and hand felling (chainsaw) techniques. All wood chips, logs, and brush will be removed. 
  • Impacts to Public Access: There will be minor interruptions to public access, to facilitate safety, during tree removal.  The immediate area, subject to tree removal activities, will be closed for the duration of the active removal. Due to the scale of the project and the pace of tree felling, segment closures are expected to be very short.  Impacted areas will be re-opened as soon as the tree felling in the immediate area has ceased, likely the same day. 
  • NDDB:A review of the NDDB mapping has been completed and it appears that this tree is not within any NDDB boundary.
  • Heritage Trees: No Heritage Trees were identified during the hazard tree identification. 
  • Project Timeframe: Estimated start date is 1/15/2024; completion of work will be 1/16/2024.
 

For more information, contact DEEP.Hazardtrees@ct.gov

Related Information

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
Spongy Moths
State Parks and Forests 
Letterboxing
Snags for Wildlife

Content last revised in November 2023