Greenwich Tree Warden: We’re Not Tree Huggers; We’re Vigilant About Hazardous Trees

At the February Parks & Rec Meeting the town’s Tree Warden Bruce Spaman gave an update on the hazardous tree program.

“We’re always on the lookout,” he said of the vigilance of the Tree Department to become aware of potentially hazardous trees. “We have trained people out there looking every day. Also, calls come in. There are a lot of eyes out there.”

Spaman said it’s important for the program  to make good use of past information. For the past few years the Tree Dept has kept accurate information on incidents, creating a database with details on every tree failure.

Included in the database is information about every storm call out incident – There were 675 callouts from 2015 to present – including what type of tree, species, size of tree, size of the part that failed, why did the part failed, whether it was a private or public tree, whether utilities were involved, and whether property damage was involved.

The median size of a damaged part of a tree was 10″ in diameter.

From 2015-present, 361 town trees fell into the road (53%) and 314 private trees (47%).

A total of 130 (19 %) were utility line incidents.

“We warn homeowners when they have a dangerous tree,” Spaman said, adding that the town’s nuisance ordnance includes dangerous trees. If the homeowner doesn’t take action, ultimately, the town can put a lien a property.

The town’s Access Greenwich mobile app allows people to report dangerous trees. (   )

“We go out and investigate every single report,” Spaman said, adding that they receive information from police, the fire department and residents.

“As much as people think we are a tree preservation organization or a bunch of tree huggers, we’re tree managers,” he said, adding that safety it the utmost priority.

“We’re not cutting down trees because they’re dropping nuts on a lawn, or dropping leaves in a gutter,” he continued. “But, we’re not going to give it a second thought if they’re a hazard to the public either.”

Spaman said that while the Tree Dept is trying to maintain the community forest, the goal is to keep the public safe. With Greenwich’s 265 miles of roads, and the fact that the community forest includes trees within 10 feet of each side of the road, there is considerable forest to manage.

“That’s a total of 648 acres of forest people live in and drive through every single day,” he said.

Mr. Spaman said that a few years ago the department’s staff was reduced from 16 to 12, but that they do have the ability to outsource work.

He noted that residents are advised to alert their neighbors if they see a hazardous tree.

The rub is that insurance companies don’t pay to remove hazardous trees, and it is expensive to take down a mature tree.

Rather, after the tree falls, they will cover the damage that is caused.

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  • These guys are worse than useless. Someone died in OG last year when a tree fell on him.

  • peterfalexander

    The only healthy trees from Pemberwick Park to Glenville are the ones being taken down for the dumbest park disgrace in memory. Sea Scouts were going to use the garage…when notified Joey Siccifit tore it down, Now they are barfing a blacktop K turn parking lot next to Child’s Playground! Kids will die. Why parking at all?
    Drive from Glenville to Pewmberwick Park notice the steep angle of repose plus to your left 213 trees there are in DANGER of falling to road and killing power & maybe people…WHY DPW widened road dumbly, recently to dumb got dumber (us taxpayers too) spent 800k on drain line that worsened conditions for river too.
    I know both RINO Selectamen are bankers who genuflect to donors but Drew should be upset …or will all this mean more EMT work?
    RTM get real. Audit & resolve money waste with a new committee to restore common sense not more common cents waste.
    Spaman & especially his crew budget should be made HUGE for a few years. To save lives & money.
    A starter the money dedicated to Pemberwick Park sad,stupid joke.
    ADA compliant sidewalk could be put in easily without sacrificing one healthy tree.
    Headin North to Glenville…the old finely graded (exceeds) ADA standards 150 year old Railroad track track is ready & waiting.
    Cost would be less than the reall idiotic donor dominated plastic tubs being planned to be installed exactly where we should not dter runoff as it is so close to Byram River.
    Basic Watershed Management does not exist in Greenwich. It did for 400 years until we stated citification 50 years ago.