• Outdoors Outdoors

Photos show illegal destruction of protected natural area near state governor's property: 'They cleared out acres of wetlands'

"Cutting down hundreds of healthy trees so they could have a better view."

"Cutting down hundreds of healthy trees so they could have a better view."

Photo Credit: iStock

A governor is under fire for his role in the destruction of trees in protected wetlands near his property.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, along with a neighbor and a neighborhood organization, hired a landscaper to carry out work behind the Greenwich home. 

According to the Associated Press, shared by U.S. News & World Report, 180 trees and thousands of bushes were cut down from land that was not owned by any of the parties involved.

It's said the removal of trees and bushes was so residents could get a better view of a nearby pond. However, that's no excuse to get rid of thriving plant life that would have helped to keep the area cool and improve air quality by absorbing harmful airborne toxins.

Lamont tried to distance himself from some of the blame by saying he thought the landscaping company that was hired would obtain the necessary permissions to carry out the work.

"I think at the end of the day, I'm responsible and the (neighborhood organization) is," Lamont said at an unrelated event, per the AP. "They hired a contractor to do the work, and I think the contractor went beyond the scope a little bit. Now I know and it will never happen again."

However, the property director of the land that was formerly owned by the Rockefeller family was skeptical about that explanation. 

"The people involved knew they would never be allowed to do this, if they had applied for a permit, so they did it anyway," Fred Jacobsen told a meeting of the wetlands commission, according to the AP

It's particularly galling for some Connecticuters after Lamont promoted a bill in April 2023 that would require cities to have 5% of their total area covered by trees, as the CT Mirror reported. 

Unfortunately, it's not just government officials who have been cutting neighborhood trees without permission. An HOA in Georgia cut down a clutch of healthy privacy trees from a resident's property without any warning. In the San Francisco Bay Area, one homeowner was furious to find a 200-year-old tree had been cut down by neighbors while they were out of town. 

In addition to the direct benefits trees can provide homeowners and tenants, including improved mental health and reduced stress, they also provide a habitat for a range of creatures, improving biodiversity and bringing pollinators that help support our food system. Cutting healthy trees down, with or without permission, can be devastating to local ecosystems.

"That is insane," one Redditor said when commenting on the Greenwich Time report of Lamont's misguided tree management. "They cleared out ACRES of wetlands, cutting down hundreds of healthy trees so they could have a better view of a pond."

This Redditor even noted they inadvertently cut down wetland trees, with the local council getting involved to create a remediation plan and issue a fine. Lamont could also be issued with a fine, according to the AP, and they could also be asked to replant the property. 

"I'm a wetlands enforcement officer in CT so this is just wild," another Redditor added

"Pretty embarrassing, especially when he's parading around planting trees on Earth Day on the other end," one user observed, noting Lamont's previous mission to bring trees to Connecticut.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article carried a headline stating the illegal destruction without a permit happened on the governor's property. It has been updated to reflect the story's reporting that the trees were near the property.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider