Appointments, Powers, and Duties of Connecticut's Tree Wardens

Chapter 451, Section 23-58 of the Connecticut General Statutes requires the appointment of a town or borough tree warden. Within thirty days of their election, the chief elected official of each town and borough shall appoint a town or borough tree warden, except in cities that have an officer (i.e., city forester) with similar duties, to a one-year term and until their successors are appointed and have qualified. The tree warden may appoint any number of deputies as he deems expedient and, at any time, may remove them from office. Reasonable compensation for services rendered shall be provided to the tree warden and his deputies.

Once appointed, the tree warden is guided, in part, by Connecticut General Statutes, Chapter 451, Sections 23-59 and 16- 234. The following is a summary of the powers and duties of Connecticut's tree wardens.

The Tree Warden Shall:

  • Have the care and control of all trees and shrubs in whole or in part within the limits of any public road or grounds and within the limits of the tree warden's town, except those along highways or in public parks unless so requested by local park commissioners.
  • Care and control parts of trees and shrubs that extend or overhang the limits of any public road or grounds.
  • Expend all funds appropriate for the setting out, care and maintenance of such trees and shrubs.
  • Enforce all provisions of law for the preservation of trees and shrubs and roadside beauty.
  • Remove, or cause to be removed, all illegally erected signs or advertisements placed upon poles, trees or other objects within any public road or place under the tree warden's jurisdiction.
  • Post a suitable notice on any tree or shrub scheduled to be removed or pruned at least five days prior to the removal or pruning unless the condition of the tree or shrub constitutes an immediate public hazard.
  • Hold a public hearing at some suitable time and place after giving reasonable notice to all known interested parties, and post a notice if any person, firm or corporation appeals in writing objecting to the removal or pruning of any tree or shrub that the tree warden has posted.
  • Render a decision granting or denying the application to stop the trees or shrubs removal or pruning and the other party aggrieved by the tree warden's decision may, within ten days, appeal to the superior court for the judicial district within which their town is located.

The Tree Warden May:

  • Prescribe regulations for the care and preservation of trees and shrubs as he deems expedient. If these regulations are approved by selectmen and posted in the town, these regulations shall have the force and effect of town ordinance.
  • Provide for a fine not exceeding ninety dollars in any one case for the violation of such regulations.
  • Cause a tree or shrub that is under the tree warden's jurisdiction to be removed or pruned at the expense of the town if, in the tree warden's opinion, the tree is a threat to public safety.
  • Determine and approve in writing reasonable compensation for tree or shrub removal or pruning ordered removed or pruned by the tree warden.
  • Remove, with selectmen approval, any trees or other plants within the limits of public highways or grounds under the tree warden's jurisdiction, which are particularly obnoxious as hosts of insects of fungus pests.
  • Give consent to a utility company to cut or trim any tree in order to serve public necessity or convenience if permission is denied by a landowner. (section 16-234)

Related Court Cases:

  • A tree warden is a public officer but if he does manual labor on trees at a separate charge, he is not acting as a public officer and if injured comes under the workman's compensation act.
  • The tree warden has exclusive control over trees within highways even though trees themselves stand on private grounds.

Connecticut General Statutes Annotated, Section 23-58, - 59, and 16-234, Revised to January 1, 1985, Volume VIII.