Windsor Tree Warden wears a variety of hats

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Mar. 21, 2013
Windsor Tree Warden Jim Govoni
Windsor Tree Warden Jim Govoni shows off the town's Constitution Oak tree that sits in front of the Windsor Public Library. Photo by Colin Rajala.

In 1901, the state of Connecticut enacted a general statute requiring that all 169 towns in the state have a tree warden. This statute has proved to be quite helpful in a variety of ways, despite many people not knowing the statue exists or that there is a tree warden in their town.

Lifelong Windsor resident Jim Govoni has been employed by the town for 31 years and currently serves as the tree warden. His role as tree warden, in simple terms, is to minimize the liability and damage of trees to the town while maximizing its urban canopy. Aside from being the town’s tree warden, he also serves as president of the Tree Wardens Association of Connecticut and is a task force member on Commissioner Daniel Esty’s State Vegetative Management Task Force.

“In essence we wear one hat as a safety officer, making sure that passage in our communities is safe, and we also wear a hat as a conservationist, to increase our urban forest by tree planting and replacing trees that come down,” Govoni said.

Govoni said that Connecticut’s natural forests are more than 100 years old, some of the oldest in the country, while the urban forests are around 60-70 years old. The tree’s age coupled with factors like increased weather events makes them susceptible to wind damage which can knock trees down, causing widespread power outages and routes to be blocked off. Govoni said that the power outages and roads being blocked off due to fallen trees is unacceptable. He says that tree trimming and tree removal takes place from Thanksgiving to March and around 40-50 trees are cut down, in addition to countless limbs and branches being trimmed or cut back for the safety of the town, its residents and their property.

Govoni wears another hat as well: that of an educator. Throughout the year, he attempts to teach garden clubs and students the importance of tree planting and, more importantly, proper tree planting. He goes through the steps of how to do it before giving them the hands-on approach and letting them do it with his guidance. Govoni has participated in the United Nation’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign with students and he helped secure the America the Beautiful grant which allowed students to plant 36 trees.

Outside of teaching and tree removal, Govoni is responsible for bringing new life to the town through trees that he plants. He participates in the Right Tree Right Place campaign, which aims to carefully choose a tree for a designated location based on the location’s need, the wildlife’s need, the town’s need in that area, as well as beautification and to break up the lines of the architecture. He can only plant 10 percent of any type of tree to ensure that bugs do not invest and ruin the tree population. This task is not easy, but Govoni takes pride in selecting the trees to ensure that Windsor remains a beautiful historic town.

“One of our missions is public education. We want the citizens to be aware that we do exist because we are there to look out for them,” Govoni said.


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