State and utilities warn of unusually high numbers of dead or dying trees

HARTFORD — Look up and live.

State agencies and utility companies are warning residents about an unusual number of trees that are dying here in Connecticut. They want homeowners and residents to take a look in their yards before winter sets in.

Fall is the perfect time to assess the health of your trees. You want to do it when the leaves are still on them.

Trees are under siege in Connecticut.

“Trees have been failing and dying in fairly large numbers across Connecticut,” said Alan Carey of Eversource.

It’s a silent crisis in the canopy caused by caterpillars, fungus, rot and an unusual weather pattern.

“Normally a drought does not harm the tree. Nor does excessive rain, you may get some fungal diseases on leaves but trees are pretty tough and they will come back. We just had three consecutive years of issues that we see the results of now,” said State’s Director of Forestry, Christopher Martin.

We caught up with Eversource utility crews Wednesday on Pleasant Street in West Hartford. They have nearly 300 crews crisscrossing the state trimming and removing trees to improve service stability across more than 4,000 miles of overheard wires.

“Every 4 years we are back down these streets. We have individuals who are making the inspections, walking down the road and writing the prescription for that property,” said Carey.

From your practical utility needs to your recreational enjoyment, Martin said you’ll be seeing marking in the state parks.

“Folks visiting our state parks, especially in high recreation use areas will start seeing orange paint on trees designated to come down this winter or next spring. We are probably going to be moving some picnic tables around and condoning off areas we think are high risk.”

Tornado damage in Fairfield and New Haven Counties have created a financial issue.

“We have some FEMA funding that came in from the federal government for that and then we have some bond authorizations to help also. Right now we are in a strategic planning process to determine whether we should handle it in house or do some contracting to expedite the process,” said Martin.

When it comes to trees on your personal property, check for rot, fungus, a hollowed core or early loss of leaves. If you want to help your trees stay healthy it’s recommended you water it during a drought.

Spread about two or three inches of wood mulch at the bottom of the tree making sure not to cover the bottom of the trunk where the roots go into the ground. Before you hire someone for tree work, do your due diligence. Get multiple quotes, make sure you read the contract and ask to see a professional license.

If you see a tree on municipal property that looks concerning, contact your local tree warden. Some cities and towns, like Hartford have a policy of allowing the public to comment on trees flagged for removal that are not considered an immediate threat.