DC Calling More of Their Trees Special:

In 2003, a law was enacted that began a new future for the trees of the United States’ national capital. The Urban Forest Preservation act outlined specifically, “To establish an urban forest preservation program; to require a Special Tree removal permit and community notification prior to the removal or replacement of a tree with a circumference of 55 inches or more, [and] to establish a Tree Fund to be used to plant trees and defray costs associated with the implementation of this act.”

As with any other urban forestry program, the evidence of benefits in having a healthy urban forest are real and tangible. The Act created in 2003 opened a path for a stronger future for community members to be pro-active and effective in their decisions to support their urban forest’s future.

Coinciding with the birth of the Act of 2003, the non-profit organization Casey Trees was founded by Betty B. Casey, a local resident. Her intent is in this establishment is, “To restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of the Nation’s Capital.”

Now in 2015, the new Tree Canopy Protection Amendment Act of 2015 is introduced by, “Council member Charles Allen of Ward 6 and co-sponsored by Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh.” In support of the Act and its provisions, Casey Trees promoted and made available to the public a petition to sign in support of the Act passing.

The act makes several significant provisions including bringing DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration into a more proactive position to cover not just street trees, but also ones located on school and park grounds.

In order for these “special” trees to be removed, increased payments must be made to the DC “Tree Fund” unless the tree is considered unhealthy or hazardous. In addition, the original circumference of 55-inches decreases to 47-inches, and fines for removing a “special” tree have tripled.

“Now the Sierra Club of DC and some others would like the Council to embrace new criteria that would bring more trees into this “special” category,” states the Forest Hills Connection webpage.

These clearly outlined acts offer a structure and system that almost guarantee the responsible handling for DC’s forestry indefinitely. In DC, it’s not so bad to be a tree.