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Legislators criticize DEEP for tree cutting

State Sen. Craig Miner (R-30) said he expects the state Legislature’s Environment Committee to address Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)policies and procedures in the wake of the cutting of trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park.

Interviewed by phone on Saturday, Jan. 16, Miner said DEEP should be able to cut trees in “real emergencies.”

“Outside of that we have to have a much broader conversation — before the cut.”

He criticized the agency’s process of designating hazard trees. Once identified and marked with “an orange dot,” the agency is obligated to remove the trees.

“So it’s not about risk, “ said Miner. “It’s about liability.”

Miner also pointed out that lawsuits against the state have to be approved by a committee of the Legislature, and that approval is not easy to get.

Miner said that DEEP ignored the input of local experts and angered people who normally support the department.

“They violated the trust of grassroots people who have stood by DEEP.”

State Rep. Maria Horn (D-64) said on Jan. 15 that she supports requiring a public notice and a certain period of time between proposed cutting and the actual deed.

She was critical of the department’s internal communications, saying the list of hazard trees “did not get adequate review even at DEEP.

“Absent an emergency, this kind of removal needs a review and a record.”

Miner and state Rep. Stephen Harding (R-107), the ranking members of the Environment Committee, issued a statement on Jan. 13, including this from Miner:

“Commissioner Dykes, having participated in a number of Zoom conference calls with some area stakeholders and me, could have avoided this public embarrassment had the process been handled in a more credible fashion.”

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