If a Tree Falls in the River…

Is that a problem? Well, it depends. Downed trees or branches (a.k.a Large Woody Debris) benefit river life in general by providing food and habitat. And they provide lurking places for those really big fish that anglers love to catch. A tree should be left where it is whenever possible. But sometimes a downed tree in the river is a genuine danger to boaters or property.

To find the balance between fish habitat and boater hazard, ask yourself: Is there a safe way to paddle under or around the tree in both high and low water? Is there a safe route to portage around it without trespassing? Can a passage be made by cutting some branches away? Is there a hazard of boats being pinned by the current
against the trunk? More about these situations can be found at www.outdoors.org/rivers.

If you feel that action should be taken for boater safety, take these steps before you cut: First, consult with the riverbank landowners and your town Wetlands Commission for any needed permission to work on the riverbank. You might also consult with the local Department of Public Works or a local boating group, or the CT DEEP Inland Fisheries Division’s Habitat Conservation and Enhancement program (860-424-3474). Also, you can follow the advice in the CT DEEP’s Large Woody Debris Fact Sheet, at http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/fishing/restoration/largewoodydebrisfactsheet.pdf.

Did the tree in the river get there by beaver intervention?  Check out the DEEP's fact sheet on beavers in Connecticut.

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