Submitted by JoAnn Messina, Executive Director, Greenwich Tree Conservancy
Greenwich’s trees are part of our natural heritage and the extensive community forest of Greenwich. Because they are part of our everyday existence, it’s easy to overlook that it’s not the handiwork of Mother Nature alone. Residents, non-profits and town officials all have a role to play in preserving and enhancing Greenwich’s woodlands and the many environmental and health benefits that they provide to our community.
The Greenwich Tree Conservancy’s role is multi-faceted including planting trees and advocating for established trees. While GTC is not always successful in our advocacy to spare trees from removal, the losses inspire us to carry on. Residents play a valuable role in caring for their own trees and adding their voices when public input is needed, for example regarding the proposed multi-year project to make safety improvements along the I-95 corridor from the NY border to Exit 6, a $200+ million project currently in
the design phase.
As noted in the Greenwich Free Press article (DOT Hearing on 6.6 Miles of I-95 Improvements: Yes to Tree Clearing, No to Sound Barriers, No to Noise and Air Quality Analyses, 3-4 Years to Complete), in a 1/21/21 public information meeting hosted by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, residents were given an opportunity to hear about and see the plans.
Residents have two ways to contact DOT about this project: 860-944-1111 or via email at [email protected] .
DOT representatives were asked a variety of questions relating to tree removals. Unfortunately, they were unable to answer the most basic question: exactly how many trees would be removed? After several people asked this same question, we were informed approximately 2 acres of trees! A recording of this public information meeting should be posted on the Department of Transportation website 7 days from the date of the hearing at: https://portal.ct.gov/dot/general/CTDOT-VPIM-Library .
Residents have until February 22 to speak out against undocumented and indiscriminate tree removals and the lack of a replanting plan. In the name of “safety” our woodlands along transportation corridors in Greenwich have been under assault these past 2 years with DOT clear cutting along Metro North and I-95 in Riverside adjacent to Riverside School, near the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center and with now more I-95 removals to come.
Wooded areas adjacent to transportation corridors provide many benefits including screening from vehicles and trains, noise reduction, air quality remediation, stormwater runoff protection, and wildlife habitat. It is sadly ironic that at a time when there is widespread acknowledgement of these many benefits that trees provide, that Connecticut DOT/Metro North are allowed to remove these valuable woodland assets with impunity. It is only through collective efforts that we will be able to preserve our community’s trees and forest.
JoAnn Messina, Executive Director