April 9, 2012
At Simsbury, Ct.
Along with the tens of thousands of trees damaged last year by Hurricane Irene and the freak October snowstorm, dozens and perhaps hundreds of the state’s most notable and historic trees were seriously damaged.
Members of the Notable Trees Committee of the Connecticut Botanical Society are still learning of the status of many of the several thousand important trees that they have documented in Connecticut in recent decades.
What they know so far is that some special trees, including an enormous black oak in East Granby, escaped with little or no damage. But others, like the famous Granby Oak, a massive, ancient white oak that is celebrated on the town seal, suffered considerable damage. Some major limbs were lost entirely, others are cracked and may yet be lost.
In Simsbury, the Pinchot sycamore, the largest known tree in Connecticut and named for the Simsbury native who became the first chief of the U. S. Forest Service, lost 35 percent of its canopy in the snowstorm. Crews were forced to cut off 20- to 40-foot sections of some limbs. Other limbs were lost entirely.
It was a natural event, of course, one that forests will adjust to in time, but the impact on these notable trees, some of them in open settings, was often dramatic. The largest known paper birch in the state, on the park-like grounds of the Institute of Living in Hartford, was so damaged that what remained of the tree was cut to the ground.
My story on the storm damage to notable trees, with more detail, appears in The Hartford Courant print editions today.