Ask UConn Extension: What’s Wrong With the Maple Trees?

thinning maple treesThis year people are noticing that maple leaves appear wilted or browned and heavy leaf drops are premature in many cases. UConn Extension educator and forestry expert, Tom Worthley, says that this “maple leaf phenomenon is a foliar fungus from the anthracnose group. During summers with high humidity and lots of rainfall these fungi can be very active and that is what we are seeing this year. It is not generally fatal unless a particular tree is under some other severe stress, and there is not much that people can do.” Maple anthracnose overwinters in fallen leaves and the disease is worse in natural or wooded areas where the fallen leaves collect from year to year. Along roadsides, this is especially in evidence by the noticeable difference in the leaves of infected maples compared to other trees surrounding them. Learn more about Maple Anthracnose.

Answered by the UConn Home & Garden Education Center and Tom Worthley  

Forest Silviculture Research and Extension in Action

UConn Forest crew working in the woods with sun shining through trees
Photo: Margot Drummey

Our forests are one of our most vital environmental, economic, and recreational resources, and we are fortunate to have abundant access to these wonderful spaces right here in Connecticut! The UConn Forest Crew works with Professor Tom Worthley in the UConn Forest and across the state to apply silvicultural practices, conduct maintenance work, and gather data to analyze the health and condition of this land. This summer, the Forest Crew has worked with UConn NRE professor Dr. Bob Fahey to conduct research at Lee Farm in Coventry, Connecticut.

This research is in collaboration with the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) project which seeks to educate forest managers on changing silvicultural planning in the face of climate change. Each project uses a standardized method of plotting and recording to gather data on forest health, and to better predict the future condition of each area. The UConn sites have been revised from the ASCC scale to assess the land at Lee Farm. Our findings from this research will ideally help us to preserve and proactively protect the health of our forests. Forest Crew work also typically includes wood working, clearing trails, and managing sections of the UConn Forest. This summer, the crew is also working with Tom to create a video series entitled “Woods Talk” which is filmed with the intention of educating woodland owners. These videos will include information on age mixes, ecosystem health, and stand diversity among an array of other topics. Keep an eye out for this series on YouTube or via the UConn Extension website later this summer!

Article by Margot Drummey

UConn Forest Providing Educational, Environmental Benefits

Jose Ayala '22 (CAHNR), left, and Alexandra Pouliot '23 (CAHNR) position a log on a portable sawmill in the Fenton Tract of the UConn Forest near Horsebarn Hill Road
Jose Ayala ’22 (CAHNR), left, and Alexandra Pouliot ’23 (CAHNR) position a log on a portable sawmill in the Fenton Tract of the UConn Forest near Horsebarn Hill Road on Aug. 2, 2021. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The UConn Forest is vital for teaching, research, and extension work. It also provides wildlife habitat, watershed protection and popular recreational hiking trails. The Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE) manages the forest. 

Proactive management sustains and enhances the many benefits the forest provides. Thomas Worthley is an Associate Extension Professor with joint appointments in Extension and NRE. He uses the forest for his undergraduate and extension education activities. Worthley also helps facilitate research projects. He and the UConn Forest crew, a group of undergraduate students, attend to day-to-day management tasks. 

Forest crew members are all professionally trained on chainsaw use and safety, as well as with other woods-work equipment. They harvest wood from trees lost to damage and disease. Utilizing wood and creating durable products is a way of storing sequestered carbon from these trees. Active forest management retains the environmental benefits and promotes growth of more trees. 

Hartford County Extension Center Moving

Exchange Building in Farmington is new home of Hartford County Extension Center

Our Hartford County Extension Center is moving. As of Friday, August 3rd, please use the following address and new phone numbers:
Exchange Building – Suite 262
270 Farmington Ave
Farmington, CT, 06032
(860) 409-9050
Fax (860) 409-9080
Please be patient with our faculty and staff over the next week as it may take a bit longer than usual to respond to any requests. All educators phone numbers have been updated at

Dealing with Storm Damaged Trees

By Tom Worthley, UConn Extension


tree down across road in Brookfield, Connecticut on May 15, 2018
Tree down in Brookfield, Connecticut on May 15, 2018. Photo: Jeremy Petro

On May 15, 2018, late in the afternoon, a striking example of one of those “severe weather events” we see quite often these days passed through my neighborhood in Higganum. Severe winds, downpours, lightning and thunder all were part of a wicked and deadly storm that ripped limbs from and uprooted trees, downed powerlines and damaged buildings and vehicles in other parts of the state. Images on TV news and social media of damage and cleanup efforts have been striking.

For my part, because of the sudden and severe nature of the winds, and the near-continuous display of lightning, I was as nervous I ever remember being about a storm event and the potential for damage to my humble little house from trees and limbs. Sure enough, one large limb, from the top of a large red oak, did get ripped off and came down about 20 feet from where I park my car. There is, of course, a mess of smaller twigs and branches as well. No real property damage, thank goodness, but it was close. The storm was over a quick as it began, and now, just like many folks around the state, I’m faced with a clean-up task. It’s not a real problem for me; that broken limb is at the edge of the woods and will make a nice neat little pile of firewood.

For many people, however, the task of cleaning up storm-damaged trees is not so straightforward and simple. Many damaged trees are huge and are left in precarious, unstable positions. Storm-damaged trees are fraught with abundant problems, dangers, and risks. Cutting, cleaning up and salvaging downed, partially down or damaged trees is one of the most dangerous and risky activities an individual can undertake.

In viewing the news reports, photos and social media posts I have been shocked and horrified by the personal risks that people are taking to cut up downed trees in cleanup efforts. Pictures of men operating chain saws in shorts and t-shirts, climbing downed tree limbs (and standing on them!) to cut them, working with no personal protective equipment, etc. – it can all be quite distressing for a person familiar with the potential danger. No professional arborist or logger I know does chain saw work without personal protective equipment – and these are the experts!

It cannot be emphasized enough that without personal skill and a thorough knowledge of equipment capabilities, safety procedures and methods for dealing with physically stressed trees, an individual should never undertake this type of work on their own. The very characteristics that make the wood from trees a great structural material can turn leaning, hanging or down trees into dangerous “booby-traps” that spring, snap, and move in mysterious ways when people try to cut them. They can cause serious and life threatening injuries. Just because your neighbor or relative owns a chain saw, it doesn’t make them qualified to tackle a large tree that is uprooted or broken. Contacting a Licensed Arborist, or Certified Forest Practitioner with the right equipment, training, and insurance, is the best alternative for addressing the cleanup and salvage of storm damaged trees, and avoiding potential injury, death, liability and financial loss.

That said, there are a few things a homeowner can do about trees that are damaged and/or causing other damage around a home site:

  • First, from a safe distance note the location of any and all downed utility lines. Always assume that downed wires are charged and do not approach them. Notify the utility company of the situation and do nothing further until they have cleared the area.
  • Don’t forget to LOOK UP! While you may be fascinated with examining a downed limb, there may be another one hanging up above by a splinter, ready to drop at any time.
  • Once you are confident that no electrocution or other physical danger exists, you can visually survey the scene and perhaps document it with written descriptions and photographs. This will be particularly helpful if a property insurance claim is to be filed. Proving auto or structure damage after a downed tree has been removed is easier if a photo record has been made.
  • Take steps to flag off the area or otherwise warn people that potential danger exists.
  • Remember that even if a downed tree or limb appears stable, it is subject to many unnatural stresses and tensions. If you are not familiar with these conditions, do not attempt to cut the tree or limb yourself. Cutting even small branches can cause pieces to release tension by springing back, or cause weight and balance to shift unexpectedly with the potential for serious injury. Call a professional for assistance.
  • Under no circumstances, even in the least potentially dangerous situation, ever operate, or allow anyone on your property to operate a chainsaw without thorough knowledge of safe procedures and proper safety equipment, including, at the minimum, hardhat, leg chaps, eye and hearing protection, steel-toe boots and gloves.

An assessment of the damage to individual trees, or more widespread damage in a forest setting is best undertaken by an individual with professional expertise. Homeowners should contact an Arborist to examine trees in yards or near to structures, roads or power lines. A Certified Forester is qualified to evaluate damage in the forest to trees and stands and advise landowners about the suitability of salvage or cleanup operations. The CT-DEEP Forestry Division can provide information about contacting a Certified Forester or Licensed Arborist. Check the DEEP Website,

or call 860-424-3630. Listings of Licensed Arborists can also be found at the CT Tree Protective Association web site,

While a nice tidy pile of firewood from a tree that was damaged in a storm might be the silver lining, it is not worth the risk of injury to yourself or someone else when tackling a very dangerous task without the proper knowledge, equipment or preparation.

Worthley Recognized for Forestry Efforts

Extension educator Tom Worthley received the Ernest M. Gould Jr. Technology Transfer Award today from the New England Society of American Foresters in Nashua, New Hampshire. With Tom are members of the Department of Natural Resources & the Environment: Senior Nick Vertefeuille, Asst. Prof. Bob Fahey, Tom, and PhD candidates Nancy Marek and Danielle Kloster. In the back are Research Technician Amanda Bunce and MS candidate Julia Rogers.Tom Worthley with colleagues receiving award Tom Worthley award recognition

Extension educator Tom Worthley received the Ernest M. Gould Jr. Technology Transfer Award today from the New England Society of American Foresters in Nashua, New Hampshire. With Tom are members of the Department of Natural Resources & the Environment: Senior Nick Vertefeuille, Asst. Prof. Bob Fahey, Tom, and PhD candidates Nancy Marek and Danielle Kloster. In the back are Research Technician Amanda Bunce and MS candidate Julia Rogers.

My Connecticut Woods

woodsMiddlesex County Extension Center Announces a Year-long Series of Twelve Workshops for Woodland Owners and Nature Lovers called My Connecticut Woods.

Workshop #1: Field Trip to a Local Vernal Pool

Come join us as the UConn Extension Forestry Team and guest lecturers explore a variety of topics about Connecticut’s natural resources.

Each class will begin at the Middlesex County Extension Center in Haddam, CT, but may end at a nearby location. The series begin on Sunday afternoon, May 3rd. Register for one class or a few at a time. Other topics to follow include a chainsaw safety course for women only, attracting more wildlife to your property, and how to make your own wooden spoon.

Register for one class or a few at a time. Please visit our calendar. Workshops from July to December will be posted early this summer.

Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands and home to many animals whose lifecycle depends upon this threatened ecosystem. The workshop begins in class with an overview of a vernal pool ecosystem followed by a field trip to a vernal pool in Haddam.

The program will be held Sunday, May 3, from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm at the Middlesex County Extension Center, 1066 Saybrook Road, Haddam, CT. Tom Worthley, an Extension Forester with UConn Extension, will present the workshop.

PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Further program information may be found on the Extension calendar:​. Registration fees are $35.00 or $30 for Coverts Cooperators.  Contact Nancy Marek at or 860-345-5231 for more information.

EAB Quarantine Extended to All of Connecticut

EABsmallThe quarantine for the invasive, non-native emerald ash borer (EAB) was extended to include all eight Connecticut counties effective December 5, 2014. This was in response to the detection of EAB in Middlesex and New London Counties. EAB is already established in numerous towns in New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, and Litchfield Counties. The movement of ash (ash logs, ash materials, ash nursery stock, and other regulated articles) within and between the eight counties of Connecticut are no longer subject to state or federal quarantine. However, out-of-state transport of ash and the transport of firewood of all tree species, including ash, within Connecticut continue to be regulated. Connecticut was added to the federal EAB quarantine around the same date. More information about the emerald ash borer and related quarantines can be found on these websites: DEEPConnecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

Learning Sustainability with Extension Forestry Program

Tom Worthley of UConn Extension’s Forestry Program spent Tuesday, October 1st at Crescent Lake in Southington teaching agricultural education students from Southington High School about forestry management. Crescent Lake has experienced problems with the invasive insect emerald ash borer. Worthley felled a damaged ash tree on Tuesday and used a portable sawmill to make lumber.

forestry1 copy
Worthley speaking to students.

Students from Southington’s Agricultural Education program learned about sustainability and environmental factors. Additionally, they saw how a professional forester takes down a dead or damaged tree. The students will be using the lumber in their classes to put value back into the community, and have discussed building bat boxes. They will have about 500 board feet of lumber from the tree.

Worthley notes that taking down dead or damaged ash trees will promote the growth of maple trees.  The Ash was in bad shape from storms and was going to be lost anyway – felling the tree now gives the value of the lumber back to the community.

For more information on the UConn Extension Forestry program, please visit us online or call 860-345-5232.