To the Editor:
We are a group of residents and friends alarmed by tree loss in Darien.
Trees provide environmental, ecological, and health benefits to the community. The Governor’s Council on Climate Change has published extensively, documenting that trees offer natural solutions to offset the impact of extreme weather due to climate change.
A 2021 UConn study by M. Fragomeni showed Darien’s average temperature increased 10 degrees in the past 20 years, faster than any other town in Fairfield or New Haven Counties. Concurrently, there has been a loss of 3.55% of the deciduous tree canopy. Catastrophic flooding caused damage to 200 homes and 24 businesses in Darien during Tropical Storm Ida in 2021. We will continue to suffer severe flooding due to unchecked development and impervious surfaces if we don’t immediately take preservation and augmentation of our tree canopy seriously.
Darien’s 2016 Conservation Plan recommends we become a “tree city,” but there is no strategic plan to achieve this designation. The benefits include reduced energy costs, stormwater management, erosion control, and preserved/increased biodiversity. The devastation from Eversource’s clear-cutting off Raymond and Littlebrook is shocking, and more is to follow. Brookside and adjoining neighborhoods are part of Eversource’s 2023 cutting calendar.
This is a wake-up call.
The town’s recent agreement with Eversource allows the removal of 85% of the trees in dispute and compounds the ecological damage by cutting during nesting season. The plan leaves behind aggressive invasives that will quickly overtake whatever saplings and pollinator plants local wildlife doesn’t enjoy first.
Given the vulnerability of our remaining tree canopy, Darien must adopt a long-term strategy by a formal ordinance or a Tree Advisory Board/ P&Z process change. We hope our First Selectman Monica McNally will be instrumental in this effort.