Tree Warden Bruce Pauley, in consultation with the Tree Committee and the Ordinance Committee of the Town Council, has to the Town Council. Due to out-of-state travel the week of November 14th, I am not able to testify in support of the ordinance before the Town Council on November 16th. Hence, this letter shall serve as my entreaty to urge the Town Council to approve a Tree Ordinance.
The October 29th freak snowstorm and Tropical Storm Irene in September demonstrated once again the vulnerability of our community to the devastation caused by a major storm. Trees were down everywhere knocking out power for far too many homes in New Canaan; roads were blocked; and falling trees and downed electric lines created a very serious threat to public safety. The cost of the storm damage to the Town and its residents has been significant.
Unfortunately, this situation is not going to get any better. Many of the iconic New England hardwood trees that line our roads are approaching the end of their natural life spans. Rot is common in the old maples and pests are now killing off ash trees and hemlocks. Invasive vines are strangling many trees and the added weight poses further danger of falling limbs and trunks. Climate change is happening and we can expect more frequent and intense storms.
The proposed New Canaan Tree Board would be charged with preparing an inventory of Town owned trees, identifying potential hazards and developing a tree management plan. Unhealthy trees should be removed and replaced with new trees. In addition to the town rights of way, the Tree Board should also have jurisdiction over the trees in our parks, where proper public forest management is long overdue.
This proposal should not be viewed as another unnecessary “bureaucratic intrusion of government." The Tree Ordinance should be unanimously adopted by the Town Council in the interest of public health and safety, to reduce future storm damage, to maintain the rural beauty (and real estate values) of our community and as a step to reduce the town’s potential liability from storm tree damage in the future.
G. Warfield "Skip" Hobbs is an outspoken advocate for conservation and open space in New Canaan. He is currently one of three members of the New Canaan Tree Committee, appointed by the First Selectman, and is a trustee of the New Canaan Nature Center. Hobbs holds a BS Degree in Geology from Yale College and a MS Degree in Petroleum Geology from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London. He heads Ammonite Resources Company, an international petroleum, mining, and geothermal geotechnical consulting company that he founded in 1982. He is immediate Past President of the American Geosciences Institute, a federation of 50 geoscience societies representing over 250,000 earth science professionals and educators.
Hobbs also manages a family farm and forest property in Sheffield, MA. He writes and lectures frequently on energy and conservation matters.