[OPINION] Tree Trimming Is Overly Aggressive, Environmentally Unsound

Annalise Ferrara moved to Weston 10 years ago from Brooklyn, where she practiced law. She’s enjoyed the town. But recently she and her neighbors — including Red Bee Honey — have noticed plenty of tree-trimming by Eversource. She writes:

Aggressive deforestation is occurring in Connecticut, particularly the historic Bradley Edge Tool Factory District of Weston.

Eversource has been removing essential carbon-eliminating and pollinator vegetation by the hundreds, in an effort to reduce the possibility of power outages.

Instead of trimming trees over the years, they suddenly cut them down, leaving an eyesore of tree stumps littering the properties of tax-paying citizens, and exposing electric towers that are devaluing neighborhoods.

One of my neighbors is a beekeeper and founder of woman-owned Red Bee Honey, a Connecticut state treasure. Her honeybees and the honey they produce are a valuable asset to all of us. Eversource has removed several trees next door, and is planning to remove even more from her property.

These trees are a source of food and medicine for her bees. This will compromise their ability to pollinate the environment, and her ability to run her business.

Connecticut General Statutes Section 16-234 had allowed a utility to remove hazardous trees — any tree or part thereof that is dead, extensively decayed or structurally weak which, if it fails, would endanger the utility’s infrastructure. The law also allowed the utility to prune or remove trees that pose a risk to the reliability of the utility’s infrastructure.

The issue here is who gets to decide whether the tree poses a risk? If it’s a healthy tree, why remove it? Why not just prune it? Eversource has decided it is easier to simply remove all the trees in its path and leave behind the stumps (which they are also allowed to grind down, if they see fit).

It used to be that Eversource could not do any work without first giving notice to the property owner that they had a right to consent, object or modify in writing the proposed pruning or removal. This notice had to include instructions on how to make the objection.

On July 1, 2013, the law changed. Now, Public Act No. 13-298 states that the notice only requires the utility to inform the property owner that they have 10 days in which to file an objection. I was unaware of this change. I wonder how many property owners were?

My neighbor on Lyons Plain Road has 18 tree stumps on her front lawn. Unfortunately, she doesn’t live in her house right now. She is a senior citizen and is in California. I don’t suppose Eversource knew that. How is it possible that all of those trees posed a risk to Eversource’s infrastructures?

Another neighbor’s property runs from Lyons Plain down River Road. The house was buried behind beautiful tall hickories but now sits completely exposed. Not one tree remains. Who knew there was a tall electric tower behind their house?

The transmission tower in Westonm, after cutting.,

I doubt all their trees posed a hazard. Wouldn’t it have been wiser and better for the environment to simply have pruned all these trees? Was there financial gain for someone in salvaging the wood, or in the contract for removing the trees? Something is wrong with this picture.

It is possible for Eversource to remedy some of what it has done? United Illuminated’s Vegetation Management Plan allows for stump grinding and replanting site-appropriate trees on a case-by-case basis. This might help my neighbor with the 18 stumps regain her lawn, the Red Bee Honey farm get some trees back, and the power tower to be hidden again.

If Eversource isn’t stopped our beautiful state will be beautiful no more, and our homes will lose their value. This deforestation must stop. Something must be done. I implore our legislators and governor to do something to curtail Eversource.

“06880” says: The issue is not so “cut” and dried. Apparently the need to obtain permission applied only to distribution circuits (35 kV and lower voltage typically found on the street — not transmission circuits (69 kV up to 345 kV). These are almost always located on rights of way, and permission was never required there.

The high-voltage tower has been in Weston for decades. The vegetation — not taken care of earlier — may have grown to threaten the lines supported by the towers.

Eversource now leaves notices on doors, informing residents that tree trimming is cutting. They also meet with first selectmen or their designees to discuss the coming year’s tree trimming planned by circuit (though not necessarily detailing the type of trimming required).

15 responses to “[OPINION] Tree Trimming Is Overly Aggressive, Environmentally Unsound

  1. Eversource is a dreadful, dangerous and avaricious neighbor, willing to cut, poison (with Glyphosate Round Up) and decimate stands of mature trees rather than spend the money to monitor and trim as needed. They do it here and on Cape Cod and no town that I know of here or there has had the power or steadfastness to stop them.

  2. Lucy Ambrosino

    Another problem is that when they trim, they just leave everything where it falls, including on the roadway, in front of your mailbox. In front of your prooerty… shouldn’t they be required to take the “trimmingd” with tgem?

  3. They had damage to those transmission lines during last summer’s storm. Trees had grown to disguise those lines but also became issues.

  4. I recommend watching Intelligent Trees, a documentary on Amazon Prime. It puts into perspective what we stand to lose by this wholesale destruction.

  5. Monica K. Buesser

    Note that trees are important pollinators and they will reduce your carbon footprint. Plant a tree (or two) to make a difference!

  6. Have to disagree. Eversource removed four huge trees from our property last summer. A representative met with us beforehand to secure our permission. The tree crew took great care not to damage our driveway and lawn areas. The cleanup was meticulous. No complaints here!

    • Well if you let them remove trees, you obviously don’t give a damn about such things, so as Eversource, politely, denudes stands of trees you would not be much bothered.

    • Lorraine Harrison

      who cares about your driveway and lawn? don’t you get it! please educate yourself about the importance of trees to life for all of us…

      • No need to disparage me. The trees were dangerous and overhanging the wires and our roof. In addition, they were severely damaged during last summer’s windstorm when we lost power for five days. Theyneeded to be taken down for our safety…I “get” it.

      • No need to disparage me. The trees were dangerous and overhanging the electrical wires and our roof. In addition, they were severely damaged during last summer’s wind event and needed to be taken down for the safety of my family. BTW. I still have many beautiful trees on my property.

  7. I’m sure there are instances where Eversource trimming is excessive but I’m afraid Ms. Ferrara’s impression of “deforestation” is mistaken and based on her short tenure of being “in the country” as city people say it.

    Any analysis of forestation would show that Weston is becoming MORE forested as trees keep growing and growing, and by historical standards, very little land is being cleared.

    Even if one has lived in the same place for 20 years (2001 is not that long ago), it’s apparent how the trees are closing in on one’s house, making it necessary to trim and even remove trees for safety and to maintain a healthy level of sunlight.

    Since tree work is costly and labor intensive, the reality is that the trees are winning, not the tree cutters.

  8. Deb Alderson

    Mr. Blau – I would be happy to meet you at the corner of River Road and Lyons Plain Road to prove to you that Ms. Ferrara is not “mistaken” in her impression of deforestation. This was not a few trees that were overgrown.
    Make no mistake, this area has been clear cut. And they were back again today taking more trees down. In response to your comment about Ms. Ferrara’s tenure in Weston – my mother has lived here since 1986. Is that a long enough tenure for our opinion to count! For everyone who lives near Eversources’ towers, be prepared. They will be in your area soon enough.

  9. Ms. Alderson, I think we’re talking about different things: in my case, disagreeing with the claim that Weston is being deforested — which it is not — and in yours that property owners near the Eversource high-tension transmission lines have a beef with the clearing being done.

    It bears mentioning that the clearing commenced after Tropical Storm Isaias, during which the high tension lines suffered tree damage. Imagine the danger if that 115,000 volt line had fallen on or near a person, home or car.

    I live on Lyons Plain, too, by the way and have noticed the clearing. I would not be happy if I lived adjacent to the lines, and the clearing affected my view, but as Dan mentioned, the situation is complex and safety is involved.

    • Deb Alderson

      Thanks for clarifying Peter. Needless to say, it’s a difficult topic with no easy solution.

  10. I love the trees but they need to be attended to and taken care of to be well & safe. We lose power regularly because they aren’t and We lost friends. On the street we walk our dogs 365 days a year in the last few years one person has died and another paralyzed due to trees that were not taken care of. We walk past trees daily that are widow makers, dead and or supported by another tree. It’s frightening and dangerous. These are all trees at the edges of the roadway. Actually some are IN the road where they just asphalt up to them. Trees so close to the road that you can see the scars in the bark from cars that scraped past them. I take pictures of the dangerous ones and ask the town to take notice. The response I get is we have a limited budget for such things and the worst get done first. When trees or branches are impacting the wires Eversource responds with they will be addressed when we are in your neighborhood. Meanwhile we walk each day and hope we aren’t as unlucky as our 2 neighbors were. I love the trees, but no one pays attention to them till something tragic happens or it costs more money then not paying attention to them. Meanwhile Eversource increases our rates because they need money to pay for storms, if they spent it on making the trees safe maybe they wouldn’t need to the money. There needs to be a a PLAN that keeps us from losing power, prevents auto accidents and saves lives…On just one street alone where we walk everyday we have witnessed all of that numerous times. What that famous quote?- Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting something to change. Caring for the trees is caring for ourselves.