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 is currently seeking comments from the public to assist with DEEP’s development of a Hazard Tree Mitigation Policy. Written comments may be 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.)

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

 
Project Location: Housatonic Meadows State Park Campground, Sharon, Ct.
  • Project Details: One (1) hazard 1 tree was marked in March of 2022.  The tree is located on campsite 17 in the Housatonic Meadows State Park Campground.  The lone tree is scheduled for removal. Pruning of this tree is not an option.    The tree marked for removal is a standing dead hemlock.
  • Project Area and potential public safety risk: Dead tree is located on campsite # 17. The target area for this tree are campsites 14,15,16,17 and 18 and would have severe consequences to anyone camping on the sites if the tree fell. 
  • Type of removal: Tree will be taken from the ground, branches chipped, and stem removed from campground. Removal by DEEP Staff.
  • Impacts to public access: Impacts to the public would be minimal if tree was removed prior to the opening of camping season. If tree is not removed prior to the camping season 5 campsites would have to remain closed to camping until tree can be removed. The campsites are located on the river and are very popular. Refunds would need to be issued if the sites were to remain closed when the camping season opened.
  • NDDB (Endangered Species) review: An NDDB review was done by staff and a determination was made that that this project is not anticipated to have any negative impacts to State-listed species.
  • Project Timeframe: 3hrs. work to be completed prior to May 27th 2022.
 
Project Location:  Gillette Castle State Park
  • Project details:  Approximately 124 trees located over 6 acres will be removed. Impacted trees are primarily dead and declining Ash trees, dead and declining Spongy moth scarred Oak trees and trees with structural defects.  
  • Project Area and potential public safety risk:  In and around picnic areas, hiking trails and historic park structures.
  • Type of removal and process:  Bucket truck and chipper, Sennebogen, stagged crane, tracked lift, tree climbing crew - removal by contractor and DEEP staff.
  • Impacts to public access:  Visitors may find certain areas of the park subject to temporary closure to accommodate the tree work, and to keep visitors safe.
  • Project timeframe: Scheduled completion by end of May 2022
 
Project Location:  Devil’s Hopyard State Park, Youth Group Camping area
  • Project details:  Approximately 156 trees located in the two youth group camping areas in Devil’s Hopyard State Park.  Impacted trees are primarily dead and declining Ash trees, dead, declining Spongy moth scarred Oak trees and trees with structural defects, some as a result of a significant forest fire in this area in 2012.
  • Project Area and potential public safety risk:  In and around the two youth group camping areas at the Park along with the access road leading to the two camp areas.
  • Type of removal and process:  Bucket truck and chipper - removal by DEEP staff.
  • Impacts to public access:  Visitors may find certain areas of the park subject to temporary closure to accommodate the tree work, and to keep visitors safe.  The youth camp areas will remain closed until the work is completed.
  • Project timeframe: Scheduled completion by end of May 2022

  

Project Location:  GAY CITY STATE PARK, Hebron
  • Project details: This hazard tree removal effort involves approximately 40 trees that were marked in February, 2022, and are located near the garage and along the driveway of the state-owned occupied residence at Gay City State Park.  All trees that are marked are either:  Standing dead gypsy moth compromised trees (mostly oak); Dead or declining ash trees due to Emerald Ash Borer and trees with structural defects such as large cavities, weak branch and stem unions, girdling and/or root issues.  
  • Project Area and potential public safety risk: State-owned occupied residence and driveway.
  • Type of removal and process: Bucket truck, chipper, mini excavator-removal by DEEP staff.  Any salvageable logs will be taken to DEEP sawmill for processing.
  • Impacts to public access: Impacts to the public will be minimal, as this area of the park is not open to the public and is signed with “Closed to Public” signs.  Visitors may find areas of the RED trail in the park subject to temporary closure to accommodate the tree work and keep visitors safe.
  • Project timeframe: Work scheduled to begin in April.

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.