trees

Invasive Pest Harms Hemlocks In The Catskills

Jan 30, 2015

A new study has found hemlock trees in the Catskill region have been declining in health amid an invasive pest infestation.

Reading, Pa., is one of the poorest cities in the country. So when a shabby-looking, 50-foot Christmas tree went up in the middle of the city's downtown around Thanksgiving, many saw it as a metaphor for the city's troubles.

More than 3 years after a tornado tore through the East Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts the city is removing damaged trees from private property.

Michelle David watched Tuesday morning as a crew hired by the city cut down the tall oak tree that teetered dangerously close to her house.

"It is a relief. It has been a long time. The street was a mess, but it looks beautiful now. We are grateful to the mayor and everyone in the city who helped get this done."

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you think of environmentally beneficial landscapes, the land beneath power lines might not be at the top of your list, but new research is highlighting this habitat's importance in conserving a wide array of plant and insect life.

claumoho / Creative Commons

For 50 years, the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield has provided a hands-on look at the natural diversity of northwestern Connecticut. With workshops, educational programs -- even its own Nature Museum -- the center has been teaching visitors about the various species and habitats found on the surrounding land. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Connecticut has a lot of trees. Our state leads the nation on this piece of technical jargon from the state forester, "woodland urban interface tree density." That means two things -- one: Connecticut has a lot of old, towering, trees -- and two, when major storms, like the ones in 2011 and 2012, hit those trees can be really vulnerable.

Creative Commons

Last June, Connecticut played host to an emergence of periodical 17-year cicadas. For many, promises of bug swarms covering neighborhoods never came to pass.

For others, in places like Meriden and North Branford, millions of cicadas did take over, lining roads, trees, and mailboxes. One year later, I met up with an entomologist to see what those bugs have left behind.

Chion Wolf

You have to trust us. 

Because I realize that a show about the Eastern Hemlock doesn't sound that sexy. In fact, we've done tree shows in the past after which I have said, "Let's not do any more tree shows." But we think we've got something here. 

First of all, this our third show working with Bob Sullivan, a writer who, in the past, has been able to make just about any topic exciting. Second, this is a story with a villain, a cottony, crawling, feeding life form called the wooly adelgid. You want something you can hate without the tiniest tremor of remorse? We're going to give it to you. 

Third, this little villain is striking right at a major player in the natural cycles that can either slow or accelerate climate change. Fourth, we're going to be talking about the souls of trees. Trust us. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Last month, Governor Dannel Malloy announced more than $880,327 in state grants for dozens of Connecticut farms. Among the recipients is a farmer in Higganum looking to fill 1,000 logs with many more mushrooms.

Benny Mazur / Creative Commons

Now that the long winter is over, spring is here. So is tree pollen.

At Green's Sugarhouse in Poultney, Vt., visitors are gathered around four squeeze bottles of maple syrup, sampling the each under brand-new labels.

Vermont recently replaced its syrup grading system and now uses new names that make different syrups sound more like wine or expensive coffee.

Gone is the former system, with names like "Fancy," "Grade A Dark Amber" and "Grade B." The new labels give both the color — "Golden," "Amber" or "Dark" — and a flavor description: "Delicate," "Rich," "Robust" or "Strong."

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Last week, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority called for a "voluntary suspension" of so-called "enhanced tree-trimming" around the state. United Illuminating and CL&P quickly filed formal responses and -- surprise -- they both want to keep trimming.

Contributed Photo

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is calling for a suspension of "enhanced tree trimming" around the state. It's a decision following months of public outcry.

Carole Cheah / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Scientists say this winter's extreme cold is having a limited impact on the state's invasive bugs, and it may even be making one insect stronger. It's called the hemlock woolly adelgid, and it was first identified in Connecticut in 1985.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

As United Illuminating continues revisions on its ambitious tree-cutting plan, a group of scientists at UConn is studying why trees fail, and how they can be made stronger.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, PURA will now delay their decision on United Illuminating's ambitious tree-cutting plan past Wednesday, January 29, due to a public hearing request from UI to discuss "technical issues."

Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.

Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.

While many of us may prefer to never again see temperatures drop below zero like they did earlier this week across the country, the deep freeze is putting warm smiles on the faces of many entomologists.

That's because it may have been cold enough in some areas to freeze and kill some damaging invasive species of insects, including the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

Flickr Creative Commons, jerry mercier

If you're driving through Connecticut, you've probably noticed a lot of colors on your commute. Fall foliage has been on full display these last few weeks, with reds, oranges, and yellows covering trees all over New England. You may even have spent your weekend raking leaves up. But have you ever stopped to consider why leaves change color? Or how they fall off trees? 

The city of Hartford loses a few hundred trees each year. But now, in a partnership with a local non-profit, the city is poised to plant 1,000 new trees this fall. The goal is to plant 20,000 trees over the next ten years.  It's an ambitious program that began last year with the first 1,000 trees planted.  Now, the city wants to spend $425,000 to keep things going.

Courtesy USDA (Creative Commons)

We've talked on WNPR's Morning Edition about the Emerald Ash Borer, the tiny green Asian beetle that feeds exclusively on the ash tree and has decimated millions of ash trees in over a dozen states. It has been recently discovered in several towns in Connecticut.

Superstorm Sandy has thrown a wrench in the effort to contain the Emerald Ash Borer. Joining us by phone is Chris Martin, Director of Forestry for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Scott Lawler (Flickr Creative Commons)

Hikers visiting the Appalachian Trail this summer may not realize how much coordination goes into maintaining the 2,180-mile trail that winds through 14 states.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in Connecticut earlier this summer to outline just how coordination on the Appalachian Trail will occur over the next ten years. It was signed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Community and Economic Development, the State Police, and the Department of Transportation.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Creative Commons)

Connecticut's Ash Trees have been spared infestation from an invasive insect so far this summer. But trees along the New York border with Connecticut haven't been as lucky.

Hartford is paying $600,000 to a local non-profit to plant 1,000 trees across the city. As WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports, the money will begin to replace some of the trees lost in last October's snow storm.

One thousand trees may sound like a lot. But consider this: the city probably loses between 200 and 400 a year. And in last October’s storm, it lost around 3,000.

Still, Ron Pitz says the money to plant new trees will put a dent in replacing city trees that have been recently lost.

"This is a nice shot in the arm for us."

Chion Wolf

After a series of bad storms, Governor Dannel Malloy declared a “War on Trees!” Or, at least, that’s what it seemed like at the time. The governor was reacting to the hundreds of thousands of power outages caused by downed trees after a tropical storm and a freakish October snowstorm.

In his defense of more aggressive tree-cutting he coined this signature phrase: “Trees grow, ladies and gentlemen of the state of Connecticut, they grow.”

Harriet Jones

December’s a pretty intense month for many people – but imagine if you were a Christmas tree farmer.  As this busy season comes to a close, WNPR’s Harriet Jones visited Staehly’s Tree Farm in East Haddam to find out what kind of a year this has been for the state’s tree growers.

“Hi there… how are you….”

Harriet Jones

Most storm clouds have a silver lining, and the freak October snowfall was no exception. Connecticut’s tree companies have work ahead of them for many, many months. 

In Vernon, Sue Peterson is surveying the scene of devastation in her front yard.

“It was huge Norway maple. Huge, huge tree.”

She was in the dark after her power failed on the Saturday night of the storm.

Harriet Jones

The foremost experts in the tree care industry have gathered in Hartford this week, just as the state’s power system is devastated by snow damage to trees. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Just as chain saws are being fired up and tree crews are working round the clock across Connecticut, delegates from all over the country flocked to Hartford Thursday for the annual Tree Care Industry Association conference. Mark Garvin is President of the Association. He says attendance is down this year.

notfrancois, creative commons

Lots of Snow Makes For Good Maple Syrup Year

May 27, 2011
Serri Graslie/WNPR

Abnormal snowfall this winter may have made the season a pain for many Connecticut residents, but it's shaping up to be a boon for local maple syrup producers. Area farmers have sap flows they haven't seen in years.

Ron Wenzel's sugar house is a little oasis each winter

"My wife calls this my man cave; I'm up here for 10, 12 days," he says.

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