Letter: Trees can be deadly in stormy weather

To the Editor:

Every few years a major storm or hurricane hits Ridgefield and fells numerous trees and large limbs that can block the roads, interrupt services, damage property or even injure people. Storm season is already here, but it’s not too late to move to protect against these risks.

Ridgefield’s high elevation raises the risk of fierce winds that make trees susceptible to storm damage. Tropical disturbances soften soil around tree trunks with prolonged rainfall — and compound the damage with unusual easterly winds — potentially uprooting large trees.

Trees should be inspected by an arborist (if possible), but many risk factors are plain to see even for those without special training. Regular pruning to remove dead branches and excessive foliage will sustain and beautify trees, and reduce the risk of breakage in a storm. Large trees can be very valuable and difficult/expensive to replace; consider cabling or even lightning protection if they are vulnerable.

Some varieties of trees tend to be riskier than others; typically, fast growing trees can be more brittle. What’s more, they are less likely to have been tested in the severe weather events of the recent past.

White pine trees (for a quick privacy screen) and willows (for wet areas) are typically planted to help solve problems, but they can themselves become problematic if allowed to grow too large. Years ago, a neighbor surveyed the damage from a large limb that had broken off a willow tree in a grove that had been planted in a wet area decades earlier, and wisely prohibited his children from playing nearby until all of the offending trees were removed.

Another problem tree is the Norway maple. Considered an invasive species in Connecticut and many other states, its high, dense canopy and rapid growth habit make it especially vulnerable in stormy weather.

Tom McManus

High Ridge, Aug. 21