The tree warden denial

I’ve submitted multiple letters to the Branford Board of Selectmen after the near-death experience of my wife’s encounter with a falling tree, only to be told that the May 2020 appointee to the position of tree warden was certified by the state as having taken weekends off his other job as public works director to attend DEEP sponsored classes in town forest management, tree law and the arborists sciences.

You’d never know it. No record of my wife’s accident adorn the revered halls of public works nor avails access by those of us who dare make FOIA requests of town hall.

After six months, town hall can’t even provide me with the essential data required by the most uninitiated – the tree’s GPS location, the tree’s species, the affliction that weakened the tree and if surrounding trees are risks to Leetes Island Road travelers.

More importantly, the DEEP has no record of his certification. That’s verified by the DEEP Counsel’s response to my FOIA request.

God help us if another tree falls on an itinerant Branford traveler.

                                                            April 8, 2023

Mr. James Cosgrove, Branford First Selectman

Branford Board of Selectmen

Branford, CT 06405

Dear Mr. Cosgrove and Board of Selectmen,

On two readings of my letters, Mr. Cosgrove has voiced public statements concerning the state certification of the town tree warden appointee, Mr. Gary Zielinski, claiming his name is listed on a DEEP website.

Be it noted that the DEEP does not maintain a tree warden certification database. Any DEEP website only lists names of tree wardens supplied by the towns, not their certification. Please reference and read the description.

Please see the email from Mary Lou Kramer of the Office of Legal Counsel in response to my DEEP FOIA request for a copy of Mr. Zielinski’s certification. A copy is attached.

Mr. Shaw

Given that DEEP is not in receipt, nor does it maintain the records you are seeking, we do not have records responsive to your request.  As such, there are no records to provide you.

TWAC is a 501C 3 corporation, not a governmental agency and, therefore, exempt from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

There is no further information we can provide you.  

I have now closed this request. 

Mary Lou Kramer


Office of Legal Counsel

Office of the Commissioner

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127
Tel: 860.424.3058

Fax: 860.424.4053


State statutes require that tree wardens submit their credentials testifying to completion of state training requirements to the CEO of the town that appointed them.

Be it noted that public documents attesting to tree warden certification are required by recently revised town code.

My recent FOIA request of the town did not yield certification documents.

I can only conclude that the Town of Branford does not have a state certified tree warden as required by state statute and that the management of our town forests is lacking.   

Respectfully submitted,

Jerry Shaw

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