Orange Has a Tree Problem

To The Editor:

The Town of Orange has a tree problem,

in fact, it has many. There has not been an active Tree Warden

monitoring the roads and grounds of Orange in over nine months.

There is no appointed tree expert monitoring the recently discovered

Emerald Ash Borer, or to supervise and permit The United Illuminating

Company’s aggressive pilot tree trimming program or work with the

town’s Tree Committee or Public Works or Parks Department to

develop strategies for tribute trees, stewardship, planting programs

or hazard mitigation.

So who’s minding the town’s trees?


In 1901 the Connecticut legislature

passed a law mandating the appointment of a “tree warden” in all

municipalities. This person then has care and control over

all municipal public trees and shrubs in that community. The

law guides the appointment, roles, and responsibilities of the tree


Each municipality follows state

statutes and local town codes which clearly identify the role of the

Town Tree Warden. The following laws can be found in Connecticut

General Statutes Title 23 (Parks, Forests and Public Shade Trees,)

Chapter 451 section 23-58 to 23-65f:

Sec. 23-58.

Tree wardens; appointment; The selectmen of each town…

shall, within thirty days of their election, appoint a town

warden. It’s currently August 14th,


The Tree Warden has numerous power

and duties; here are a few excerpts from:

Sec. 23-59. Powers and duties of

wardens. The town tree warden shall have the care and

control of all trees and shrubs…within the limits of any public

road or grounds… which shall extend to such limbs, roots or parts

of trees and shrubs….including… preservation of such trees and

shrubs and of roadside beauty. The tree warden shall remove or cause

to be removed all illegally erected signs or advertisements, placed

upon poles, trees or other objects within any public road. Whenever…

public safety demands the removal or pruning of any tree or

shrub… the tree warden may cause such tree or shrub to be removed

or pruned at the expense of the town. The tree warden shall, at least

ten days before such removal or pruning, post thereon a suitable

notice stating the tree warden’s intention to remove or prune

such tree or shrub.

Sec. 23-65. Posting or distributing

advertisements. Removing, pruning, injuring or defacing certain trees

or shrubs. Restoration. Damages. Regulations. Permit for cutting or


(b) Any person, firm or corporation…

who removes, prunes, injures or defaces any shrub or ornamental or

shade tree…without the legal right or written permission of the

town tree warden, may be ordered by the court in any action brought

by the (The Town.)

(f) Any person, firm or corporation,

other than a tree warden, who desires the cutting or removal…of any

tree or shrub…, may apply in writing to the town tree warden. Upon

receipt of such permit, but not before, he may proceed with such

cutting or removal…when the applicant is a public utility

corporation, the party aggrieved by such decision may, within ten

days, appeal therefrom to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority

(PURA). All tree work requires written permission before work can

commence on town property and the tree warden shall have the final


On a local level here is an excerpt

from the Orange Town Charter:

Chapter 360, § 360-4 Town Tree


  1. There is hereby created the

    appointive office of Town Tree Warden. The Town Tree Warden shall be

    appointed by the First Selectman in accordance with Section 4.4 of

    the Orange Town Charter for a term of two years or until a qualified

    successor is appointed. The Town Tree Warden shall be a licensed

    arborist and shall have all powers, duties and authorities

    ascribed to tree wardens in Connecticut General Statutes Sections

    23-58, 23-59, 23-60 and 23-65.

These are the existing local and

state laws which were written years ago to preserve and maintain town

owned trees by the tree warden. Recently, the Public Utility

Regulatory Authority drafted and passed new public acts to give the

tree warden more power and work closely with their respective town

residents in rendering final decisions on any proposed utility tree

trimming or removal. Found in PA 14-151

The United Illuminating Company (UI)

began a pilot program to prune and remove trees on their backbone

utility lines through Orange. The program, Enhanced Tree

Trimming(ETT) and Enhanced Tree Removal(ETR), measures eight feet to

the right and left of the top wires on the utility pole and removes

all vegetation in that zone from ground to sky. This ETT/ETR program

was enacted to remove trees which pose risk in severe storm

situations to maintain consistent delivery of power. This program

broke ground in Orange in the early winter (January-2014) without a

Tree Warden to receive applications, review the sites or to monitor

the cause and effect of the ETT & ETR program. Many streets in

Orange were disfigured such as: Lambert Road, Buttonball Road, Orange

Center Road, Racebrook Road, Pine Tree Drive, Old Grassy Hill Road

and Tyler City Road. Miles of roads and hundreds of town trees were

hastily pruned or removed, while unmonitored, unpermitted and not

properly posted by an appointed Town Tree Warden. This program has

met tremendous opposition in UI’s district in towns such as

Fairfield, West Haven and Hamden where there are active tree

wardens and a concerned public interest.

The Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native

invasive insect, was discovered in Orange early this summer in the

ball fields beside Town Hall. They infest and destroy an Ash tree in

2-3 years. Ash trees fall apart rapidly under this infestation and

drop branches and collapse quickly. Ash trees constitute 4-5% of the

town’s trees. These trees are along our roads, schools, parks.

Once the Emerald Ash Borer is in the trees, it cannot be stopped. It

continues to infest its host one Ash after another until it moves on

to the next town. These trees require diligent management plans,

swift removals and can destroy meager tree budgets. This is a

serious situation which needs attention by a qualified tree warden


Trees hold real value. Trees provide

for our town’s rural aesthetics, raise home prices, reduce storm

water runoff, slow and calm traffic and cool our homes and roads.

Trees generate oxygen and sequester carbon dioxide and hold real

financial value in our neighborhoods. The Tree Warden is in place to

manage these trees and make sure our aesthetics, real estate values

and character in Orange are consistently maintained. The Tree Warden

makes sure our school grounds and parks are safe, as well as manage

roadside safety. It is paramount that the town finds and appoints a

Tree Warden immediately to fulfil state and local responsibilities

and help manage our urban forest correctly. So what’s happening to

our trees? Who’s monitoring United Illuminating? Why don’t we

have a Tree Warden monitoring the roads and grounds? Ask the First

Selectman: (203) 891-4737 or

Bruce Lindsay
Resident of Orange

B.S. Horticulture
Owner –, LLC
Tree Warden-Town of

Vice Chairman – CT

Urban Forest Council
Vice Chairman –

Town of Orange Tree Committee
CT Licensed Arborist