Stop Doing This to Trees!

The somewhat famous house that was briefly occupied by Jackie Kennedy after her husband’s assassination was recently sold. (For way less than it was listed for). The new owner, though, has already essentially killed multiple mature trees on the property, and doing so has broken the law.

GM has been over this before. Even if the tree is on your property, you cannot cut it down or even aggressively prune it willy-nilly. Here are the rules:

In the District of Columbia, there are two designations for very large trees:  Special and Heritage.  It is illegal to remove trees in either of these designations without a permit.
Special Trees are between 44″ and 99.9″ in circumference.  A permit to remove a Special Tree can be obtained without cost if the tree is declared by a certified arborist to be dead, dying, or dangerous to person or property.  Otherwise, the cost of a permit is no less than $55 per inch of circumference.  If a Special Tree is removed without a permit, the fine is no less than $300 per inch of circumference.
Heritage Trees are 100″ and above in circumference.  Permit to remove a Heritage Tree can be obtained only if the tree is declared by the Urban Forestry Administration (UFA)  to be dead, dying or dangerous to person or property.  The penalty for removal without a permit is no less than $300 per inch of circumference (a minimum fine of $30,000!)   However, a Heritage Tree can be transplanted within the District of Columbia but must live at least 3 years after transplanting, with a fine of no less than $300 per inch of circumference.if the tree dies.   One can build around a Heritage Tree with a Tree Save Plan, approved by UFA, but if the tree dies within 3 years, the fine is no less than $300 per inch of circumstances.
If a Special or Heritage Tree is topped (unacceptable act of tree pruning resulting in the indiscriminate reduction of the tree’s crown leading to disfigurement or death of a tree), the fine is    no less than $300 per inch of circumference.

The new owner of this N St. home pruned two large southern magnolias so aggressively that they are as good as dead. No permit was obtained. This will likely result in big fines, but that might not matter to someone who just bought a $5 million house.

Again: If you have a large tree on your property that you want to take down or otherwise dramatically prune, you need a permit. And the only way that permit is not going to be super expensive is if a certified arborist declares that the tree is dead or dying.

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