House of Representatives
File No. 792
January Session, 2017
(Reprint of File No. 43)
As Amended by House Amendment
Approved by the Legislative Commissioner
May 25, 2017
AN ACT REQUIRING THE DEVELOPMENT OF VEGETATION AND TREE REMOVAL MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) The Department of Transportation shall develop guidelines governing the management of vegetation and tree removal along state highways. Such guidelines shall include provisions for, but shall not be limited to: (1) Safety of the traveling public, (2) general roadside vegetation management activities performed by the department, including, but not limited to, mowing, herbicide application, grassing, replanting, limb management, tree removal, and debris removal, (3) beautification and enhancements, (4) visibility enhancement, (5) work zone traffic control, and (6) worker safety. For vegetation management and tree removal, such guidelines shall require the department to consider the environmental impact of such work, including, but not limited to: (A) Preventing invasive tree, brush or plant species growth and impact; (B) storm water run-off; (C) erosion; (D) replanting of vegetation species to expand and improve pollinator corridor habitat; (E) reduced mowing; and (F) the effect on scenic highways or other similarly designated roadways.
(b) Such guidelines concerning vegetation management shall be reviewed and approved by a licensed arborist if the services of such a licensed arborist are available from a licensed arborist who is employed at either the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection or the Department of Transportation.
(c) The guidelines developed pursuant to this section shall be: (1) Posted on the Department of Transportation's Internet web site, (2) updated, as necessary, to comply with provisions of federal and state law concerning vegetation management on state highways, and (3) reviewed by all maintenance and contractor personnel prior to the commencement of any vegetation management activity.
(d) The provisions of this section shall not apply to the removal of any trees or vegetation that constitute an immediate public hazard or any Department of Transportation construction project that constitutes such an immediate public hazard.
(e) A copy of the guidelines developed in accordance with this section shall be provided by the Department of Transportation to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment and transportation.
Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Not later than May first of each year, the Department of Transportation shall report the amount of funds the department allocated for vegetation management for the remainder of the calendar year to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment and finance.
This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:
The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.
OFA Fiscal Note
NO FISCAL IMPACT
The bill as amended does not result in a fiscal impact as the Department of Transportation is currently in the process of developing guidelines pertaining to the management of vegetation and tree removal along state highways.
House “A” struck the underlying bill and its associated fiscal impact.
The Out Years
State Impact: None
Municipal Impact: None
OLR Bill Analysis
HB 6123 (as amended by House "A")*
AN ACT CONCERNING TREE REMOVAL ALONG LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS.
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;
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.
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.