NEW HAVEN (AP) — Dead trees are posing a potential hazard to people visiting many Connecticut parks, but state workers say understaffing is causing delays in fixing the problems.
Several New Haven Register reporters visited parks around the state in late July and early August and found numerous dead trees near trails, the newspaper reported Sunday. Several employees of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection told the newspaper more staffing is needed to remove dead and ailing trees.
Park tree health became a concern in the state in May after a 45-year-old Colchester woman was killed and her 18-year-old daughter was seriously injured when a rotting oak tree fell on them at the Salmon River State Forest in Colchester. Register reporters found dead trees along trails at Salmon River State Forest, Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown, Burr Pond State Park in Torrington, West Rock Ridge State Park in Hamden and New Haven, Indian Well State Park in Shelton and Osbornedale State Park in Derby.
Staff at Sleeping Giant State Park are on the lookout for hazardous trees and branches, especially around picnic areas.
said Jill Scheibenpflug, a park maintainer at Sleeping Giant.
“We try to do the best we can to remove any hazardous trees near the trails,” she said. “If it isn’t done, we just haven’t gotten to it.”
She added, “You can have a tree that looks fine, and the next day it falls down.”
On Aug. 4 in Queens, N.Y., a pregnant woman sitting on a park bench died when a tree fell on her. On July 21, a falling tree killed a 21-year-old woman at Yosemite National Park in California.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection does its best to maintain trail areas in parks and remove dead trees, said agency spokesman Dwayne Gardner, who said park visitors who see tree problems should report them to the state.