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:  Satan's Kingdom Recreation Area, New Hartford, CT

  • Project Details:  Cut down and remove all 26 hazardous dead trees marked for removal.  Prune 2 hazardous trees marked for pruning.
  • Project Area and Potential Public Safety Risk:  All marked trees are in a high use recreation area along the Farmington River and pose a high risk of falling and injuring visitors.
  • Type of Removal:  Cut down and remove all 26, marked, dead trees. Prune and remove dead branches from 2 trees.
  • Impacts to Public Access:  The work will be accomplished during low public use time periods with minimal disturbance to usage.
  • NDDB:  NDDB review has been completed; there are no species of concern related to the proposed hazard tree removals.
  • Significant Trees:  The public hazard created by these dead trees outweigh any other factor.  There are no significant/heritage trees included in this project. 
  • Project Timeframe:  8/1/2022 through 8/5/2022

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 April 2022.