Trees Sprouting Across Connecticut, 19 Municipalities Lead the Way

Tree City USA is an honor earned by cities and towns that meet four standards set by the Arbor Day Foundation and have their application approved the State Forester. Connecticut currently has 19 municipalities with the Tree City USA designation, which cover 31 percent of the state’s population. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Connecticut’s longest running Tree City is Fairfield, which recently surpassed 26 years.  The largest community is Bridgeport, the smallest, by population, is Brookfieldthumb-grid-shaded-path

The four standards are having:

  • A tree board or department
  • A tree care ordinance
  • An urban forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita
  • An Arbor Day observance and proclamation

The other Tree City USA communities in Connecticut are Branford, Danbury, East Hartford, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Monroe, New Canaan, New Haven, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Southbury, Stamford, West Haven, Wethersfield and Wilton.

Norwalk and Wethersfield, for demonstrating a higher level of tree care, have received Growth Awards from the organization.  Overall, there are 3,400 Tree City USA honorees across the country, with a combined population of more than 140 million.logo-tree-city-usa-color

Annual participation as a Tree City USA community provides the opportunity to educate people who care about their community about the value of tree resources, the importance of sustainable tree management and engage individuals and organizations in advancing tree planting and care across the urban forest.

The organization also offers on-line education courses for individuals interested in learning more about trees, or about serving in a citizen advisory role in their local community.

The Arbor Day Foundation indicates that an effective tree program can:

  • Reduce costs for energy, storm water management, and erosion control. Trees yield up to three times their cost in overall benefits to the city, averaging $273 per tree.
  • Cut energy consumption by up to 25%. Studies indicate that as few as three additional trees planted around each building in the United States could save our country $2 billion, annually, in energy costs.
  • Boost property values across your community. Properly placed trees can increase property values from 7-21% and buildings in woodedareas rent more quickly and tenants stay longer.

tree in BridgeportThe Arbor Day Foundation also has a campus program, designating colleges and universities as a Tree Campus USA.  The University of Connecticut is the only college in Connecticut to earn the designation.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Urban Forestry Program is available to work with any community interested in exploring whether it qualifies as a Tree City USA and what is needed to earn that designation.

DEEP officials indicate that “many communities might be surprised at how close they are.”  Applications for next year's honor are due in December.  The program was initiated by the Arbor Day Foundation in 1976.



Connecticut's Green Report Card: Needs Improvement

Connecticut’s state government received mixed grades in the new edition of the Connecticut Green Guide, published by Hartford Business Journal.  The publication reviewed state policy in our areas – microgrids, gasoline taxes, wind turbines and greenhouse gas reduction efforts – and graded the state’s efforts.

Connecticut received an “A” for recently announcing an $18 million grant program with nine microgrid projects in eight Connecticut communities, “adding protection from power outages and moving away from a centralized electriciMalloy aParkvillety system.”  Just a week ago, Gov. Malloy was joined by the White House Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to highlight one of the state’s microgrid sites, in the Parkville neighborhood of Hartford.

The state received an “F” because of a moratorium on wind turbines, which has been in place since 2001, according to the Green Guide.  “Because of poorly written legislation and prolonged bureaucracy,” the publication explained, several projects have been delayed.  Another poor grade, a D+, was assigned because state taxes on gasoline rose 4 cents on July 1, “giving Connecticut the third highest taxes on motor vehicle fuel in the country.”  The publication noted that while “higher prices might egreen guilde logoncourage conservation, very little of the tax revenue goes toward fixing the aging transportation system, leading to vehicle inefficiencies and congestion.”

Connecticut fared better. earning a B+, in the analysis of the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, along with the other eight states in the region, which will “further lower the cap on power plant pollution,” which should, according to the publica50 statestion’s review, “make the air cleaner, and the proceeds will aid the clean energy industry.”

The publication also noted that Connecticut became the first state in the country to mandate mattress recycling, with a new law approved by the legislature this year, also adding a new paint recycling requirement to existing laws that call for recycling of electronic waste and mercury thermostats.  The state’s move toward a greater emphasis on “product stewardship,” is characterized by an increasing obligation imposed on consumers to recycle designated products, which helps the environment and provides business opportunities in the recycling of those products.

In a report on the green initiatives across all 50 states, published by Forbes magazine in July, Connecticut excelled in the areas of mass transit, ranking 5th among the states, in CO2 controls, ranking 11th, and recycling, ranking 18th.  The state was 44th in use of renewables and 47th in water quality.  That's according to this recent green ranking of states from, a website that provides information on a variety of public health topics.

Data from the green product rating site GoodGuide was used to assess air and water quality, information from Wikipedia was the basis of the comparison on the number of mass transit systems in each state, and state agencies were used to provide information on the other categories.

Connecticut Ranks 17th in Beach Closings/Advisories in 2012

As the summer beach season moves into full swing, Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, is calling attention to the number of days that Connecticut beaches had to be closed, or were under public advisories during 2012 due to environmental or related factors. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) annual “Testing the Waters” report, issued last week, found that Connecticut beaches were closed or under advisories for 198 days in 2012. That is down from 538 in 2011 but still more than twice the number of closings/advisories in 2010, 2009, or 2008.

The report analyzes beach closure and advisory statistics from beaches around the U.S.; Connecticut ranked 17th out of the 30 states listed.testing the waters

According to the NRDC report, 22 percent of Connecticut’s closing/advisory days last year were due to monitoring that revealed elevated bacteria levels and 29 percent were preemptive due to heavy rainfall, which can overwhelm outdated stormwater systems and wash untreated sewage into rivers and the Sound. The remaining days were preemptive due to wildlife.

The beaches with the worst records for exceeding the state's daily maximum bacterial standard were Pear Tree Point Beach in Fairfield County and Seabluff Beach in New Haven County, which tested above the maximum 28 percent of the time; Oak Street B Beach in New Haven County at 20 percent; and Fairfield County’s Calf Pasture Beach, Weed Beach, and Rowayton Beach, all at 19 percent.

“When it comes to clean water, being ‘middle-of-the-pack’ is not good enough,” said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “One out of every ten American citizens lives within an hour’s drive of Long Island Sound, and they deserve clean, safe beaches—even one closing because of bacteria and pollution is too many.”

“Just an inch of rain in 24 hours causes many local health departments around the Sound to shut down beaches. Drought conditions may provide the perfect beach weather—no rain means no contamination from stormwater runoff—but we can’t rely on Mother Nature to do our pollution control for us. If we want to enjoy our coastline, eat local seafood, and promote tourism along the shore, rain or shine, we have to be proactive. That means stopping pollution at the source by upgrading our sewage treatment plants, separating the combined sewer overflows that dump almost two billion gallons of untreated sewage into our waterways each year, and investing in innovative stormwater runoff solutions like drain filters and green infrastructure.”DSC04553cropped

By comparison, the same NRDC report found that Westchester County in New York lost 112 beach days in 2012, and that New York State ranked 22nd out of 30 states, up from 24th in 2011.

Two Westchester County beaches had the first- and third-worst records in the state for the number of water samples that exceeded the state bacterial standard. Bacterial levels at Shore Acres Club in Mamaroneck tested above the standard fully 50 percent of the time, and Surf Club in New Rochelle exceeded 35 percent of the time. Overall, Westchester County beach samples exceeded the standard 14 percent of the time, making Westchester the fourth-worst tested county in New York. Bronx County, which also affects water quality in the western Sound, came in at number three.

Save the Sound issues weekly Sound Swim Alerts for Connecticut and Westchester County to inform residents when beaches are open for swimming and when they are closed. The alerts can be found on Save the Sound’s blog.

beach chart

Additional info on water pollution, contamination and depletion.

Maritime Industry Brings $7 Billion Impact, 40,000 Jobs to Connecticut

The value of Connecticut’s maritime economy is nearly $7 billion, according to a new report researched and developed by the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.  The industry contributes nearly 40,000 jobs to the state, according to “Valuing the Coast: Economic Impacts of Connecticut’s Maritime Industry issued in conjunction with Sea Grant, a national network comprised of 32 Sea Grant programs based at flagship universities in coastal and Great Lake states and Puerto Rico.

Seven sectors classified by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) as directly related to the state’s maritime inmaritime industrydustry were studied for the report: commercial fishing; seafood product preparation and packaging; ship building and repairing; boat building; transport by water; scenic and sightseeing transportation and support activities for transportation; and amusement and recreational activities.

Lead author was Robert S. Pomeroy, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in UConn's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a Sea Grant college fisheries extension specialist.  Pomeroy says the goal of the study was to document the significance of the maritime industry to Connecticut’s economy.

Pomeroy noted that the total impact of the state’s maritime economy is thought to be even higher because this study only looked at seven sectors of the economy. One important area not included is Connecticut’s growing aquaculture industry, which involves farming fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. The DOC classifies aquaculture as being part of the state’s agricultural industry, so those numbers are not reflected in the findings.

Notably, the research showed that New London County alone accounts for a little less than 50 percent of the total state output impacts. The region consists of 36 towns, including several of the largest cities of the state.  Recreaticoastal countiesonal activities are the most important sector for Middlesex County, one of four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry.

The total economic output impact, measuring the value of the goods or services produced in each of the sectors studied, resulted in a finding of $6.83 billion at the state level, and $5.88 billion for the four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry. These include the counties of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London.

Pomeroy and his colleagues used an economic model developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontif that makes it possible to quantify the interdependencies between different branches of the economy. Leontif’s model shows how the output of one industry serves as an input to each of the other industries in the study. The data used was from 2010.

For Connecticut, ship building for commercial and military purposes is the sector contributing the most to the economy among the seven sectors measured. However, for counties other than New London, the most important sector is transport by water for Fairfield; scenic and sightseeing transport and support activities for transportation in New Haven; and other amusement and recreation industries for Middlesex.

The study also showed that maritime outputConnecticut’s maritime industry is an important contributor to employment, with nearly 40,000 people being employed in the industry, of which 32,000 come from the four southernmost counties in the state. Among the seven sectors studied, ship building, which employs approximately 17,600 people, contributes the most jobs to the state’s economy.

The Sea Grant program is focused on making the United States the world leader in marine research and the sustainable development of marine resources.  Joining Pomeroy in authoring the report were Umi Muawanah, a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow, and Nataliya Plesha, a Ph.D. candidate in UConn’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

For purposes of comparison, a previous study commissioned by the Connecticut Maritime Coalition using 2007 data, reported that Connecticut’s maritime dependent industries were estimated to account for over $5 billion in business output, generating approximately 30,000 jobs. While the two studies used different methodologies, the results are comparable and show the critical economic importance of an evolving maritime industry to the state’s coffers and to providing a stabilizing economic force for Connecticut citizens in otherwise uncertain times.