Letter to the Editor


Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to the Weston Board of Selectmen, Land Use Director, Conservation Planner, and Conservation Commission chair, and published here by request of the writer.

As yet another air quality advisory looms over our town due to climate change, I feel compelled to write to you as a concerned private citizen, and also as a local advocate for better land stewardship practices, through both my role as a volunteer with the Weston Garden Club and Pollinator Pathway, and as a volunteer committee member of the Sustainable Weston town committee.

I am saddened to read the recent arborist report that condemns the 150 year old oak tree on Norfield Road. It is a real shame that in spite of professional arborist care and attention over the years, the tree is in decline. I note that this tree is one of only eight notable trees that our town has nominated through Connecticut College.

Climate change has had, and will continue to have, an adverse effect on our town. The Norfield Oak tree contributes greatly to our town's carbon storage; I recently read an article that suggested that our town of Weston would have to plant 100 trees and wait 13 years for the newly planted trees to grow in order for them to store the same carbon as this 150 year old tree.

I am very proud of the active role that my fellow Weston Garden Club members have taken to advocate for the protection of the Norfield Oak. I do hope that the town has an adequate plan in place to protect other significant trees on town property from a similar fate, and I would be grateful if you could share that plan with me for future reference. Specifically, I would like to know the current plan to conserve mature trees within the newly created town village district, as wellIt as a current list of mature and notable trees on town property.

With regards to next steps, I strongly believe that the town of Weston must improve its outreach and education of homeowners regarding the benefit of native trees on our quality of life. I reference the important work that our neighbors in Fairfield do with regards to their Forestry Commission and tree planting program. Here in Weston, it seems that our tree warden is only responsible for the removal of trees.

Similarly, it seems that our Conservation Committee is only concerned with monitoring wetlands, and while this is a critical role that our town employees and volunteers execute very thoroughly, I recommend that this committee be expanded to enforce the conservation guidelines contained within the POCD, particularly with regard to managing native and invasive plants in town. We, as a town, must do a better job promoting the benefits of trees and native plants. I am certain that there has been enough interest from concerned residents that our town could create a Forestry Commission.

Additionally, it pains me to see that our school administration routinely plants non native plants on town property, and does very little to manage the invasive plants that are taking over the campus woodlands. What are school/town employees doing to create a better land stewardship model both on School Road, and here in town? What are town/school employees doing to make sure that our grounds staff are well versed in the latest ecological landscaping protocols?

Finally, I hope that the town will heed the advice of our local wildlife rehabilitators, and follow the directions of the inland wetlands and watercourses regulations, and lead by example in delaying the removal of this tree, until November. Thus allowing the nesting birds and other local wildlife to use the tree as habitat throughout summer and fall.

— Sarah Hutchison

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