Kupchick and McCarthy Vahey work to protect trees

A proposal that ensures proper state tree removal protects healthy and beautiful treescapes was supported and co-sponsored by State Reps. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-133).

The bill requires the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) to submit a tree removal plan to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and the Environment Committee no less than 120 days prior to removing any trees from state highways.  

“I, along with Fairfield residents, community groups, and local municipalities have been concerned by the continued sudden and indiscriminant removal of trees along state highways. The removal of trees by the Connecticut Department of Transportation seems to have been done without consideration for health and sustainability of roadside wetlands,” said Rep. Kupchick.“This is reasonable and thoughtful proposal which calls for the planned removal of hazardous trees rather than the removal of all trees within specific geographical zones.”

Rep. McCarthy Vahey added, “This bill will insure the proper and thoughtful pruning and removal of trees along our highways.  Safety along our highways is critical.  These steps will continue to assure the maintenance of safe highways, while taking important environmental and cost concerns into account. Healthy, mature trees are critical to our ecosystem and once removed it takes generations to restore that loss.  I am happy to see these notification and planning principles move forward.”

The bill outlines that the plan submitted by CTDOT must:

  • Contain a detailed explanation of the areas scheduled for tree removal
  • Specify the dates during which the work will take place and note the amount of money allocated to the project
  • Consult with DEEP and detail the environmental impact of the proposed tree removal, including impacts of erosion, and the overgrowth of invasive species
  • Specify the size of the area CTDOT intends to clear
  • Provide for removal of all debris associated with clean up
  • Require the planting of non-invasive species, as recommended by DEEP to replace the removed trees

In 2014, legislation, Rep. Kupchick co-sponsored a law which prohibits utilities from pruning or removing any non-hazardous tree or shrub within or overhanging a set area around poles and wires without providing advance notice to abutting property owners. Such notice must include an option for the property owner to consent or object to the pruning or removal, and an opportunity to modify the utility’s proposal. The notice will give property owners ten business days to raise concerns, and ultimately to appeal to PURA if the matter cannot be resolved.

State Reps. Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-133) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132).

State Reps. Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-133) and Brenda Kupchick (R-132).

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