What Can I Do?

Trees and Vegetation

Greg Futoma

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A natural riverside, often forested, keeps the lower Connecticut River valley especially picturesque. This beautiful countryside is why many wish to live in the Zone. The coastal forest also protects hillsides from erosion and reduces the amount of soil sediment and pollutants running into the river.

Homeowners naturally want river views from their property. Great views can still be achieved while preserving the river’s traditional scene for homeowners, next-door neighbors, and those across the river, along with people traveling on the water.

As an arborist, landscaper, tree service or design professional, you can help keep the river beautiful by suggesting practical solutions, rather than clearcutting trees and laying bare clients’ hillsides.

Selective tree pruning, often called “limbing up,” allows property owners their wonderful views, while neighbors and river users still enjoy natural vistas. An effective rule of thumb is to “raise the canopy” by pruning the lower third of trees so residents can see under the foliage.

Beyond preserving our beautiful riverside scenery, your recommendations can benefit clients in other ways.

Naturally situated homes are ultimately more attractive for owners and for future real estate purchasers. Foundation and yard plantings enhance architecture, reduce erosion, help cool homes during summer, and help fight climate change!

Native plantings greatly benefit our natural ecosystems and habitat too.  With your advice, a home’s landscaping can provide vibrant colors throughout the growing season and the gorgeous reds and yellows that are a hallmark of fall in New England.

Native plantings may require less maintenance, and a natural yard won’t need the fertilizer, pesticides, herbicide that a lawn usually requires, saving homeowners money and leaving their land healthier. As our climate increasingly experiences dry or drought periods, native plantings need much less water, conserving another critical resource, especially if a home relies on a well.

fall foliage on Connecticut River

Working with the Commission

When the Connecticut River Gateway Commission reviews applications to local Zoning Boards of Appeals and Planning & Zoning Commissions, it may request that local approval be conditioned on limiting the removal of mature trees or call for planting native shrubs. If mature trees do need to be removed for construction, replacement trees can compensate for their loss.

The Gateway Commission will work with you and your clients to determine how landscaping and tree work can minimize negative impacts. We seek solutions that satisfy property owners, the Commission and local agencies.

The Commission’s goal is to work with professionals and homeowners in the lower river valley to keep the Zone beautiful and desirable for all.

Ferry ride

How to Easily Recognize the Zone

The “Conservation Zone” — the area in 8 towns precisely defined in state law as where the Gateway Commission preserves the “natural and traditional river scene” — can be identified in simpler terms. It is that visible area you can see if you’re on the river in a boat or looking across the river from the opposite shore.