OLR Bill Analysis

HB 6123 (as amended by House "A")*

AN ACT CONCERNING TREE REMOVAL ALONG LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS.

SUMMARY

This bill requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop guidelines on managing vegetation and removing trees along state highways. It specifies what these guidelines must include and requires that they be reviewed and approved by a licensed arborist, updated as needed, and posted on DOT's website. DOT must give a copy of the guidelines to the Environment and Transportation committees.

It exempts from these guidelines trees or vegetation or a DOT construction project that poses an immediate public hazard.

The bill also requires DOT to report annually, by May 1, the amount of money it has allocated for vegetation management for the remainder of the calendar year to the Environment and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees.

*House Amendment “A” replaces the underlying bill, which required DOT to submit to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Environment Committee a tree removal plan 120 days before removing any trees from a limited access highway.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

VEGETATION AND TREE MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES

DOT's vegetation and tree removal guidelines must at least include provisions for the following:

1. the safety of the traveling public;

2. general roadside vegetation management activities, including mowing, herbicide application, planting grass, replanting, limb management, and tree and debris removal;

3. beautification and enhancements;

4. visibility enhancement; and

5. work zone traffic control and worker safety.

The bill also requires DOT to consider the environmental impact of vegetation management and tree removal, including:

1. preventing the growth and subsequent impact of invasive tree, brush, or plant species;

2. storm water run-off;

3. erosion;

4. replanting of vegetation species to expand and improve pollinator corridor habitat;

5. reduced mowing; and

6. their effect on scenic highways and other similarly designated roads.

GUIDELINES REVIEW

The bill requires that the guidelines be reviewed and approved by a licensed arborist, if such services are available from one employed by either DOT or DEEP.

DOT must post the guidelines on its website and update them as needed to comply with applicable federal and state law. All maintenance staff and contractors must review the guidelines before managing any vegetation.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

30

Nay

0

(02/22/2017)