Vermont Tree Wardens
Vermont's picturesque town greens and tree lined streets do not occur by chance alone, often they exist due to deliberate planning, planting and care of a town’s Tree Warden. While the duties of a tree warden may vary widely from community to community, a Tree Warden is responsible for shade trees on public property, such as: town greens, schools, town forests and within the right-a-way of public streets. Trees in our communities are increasingly being lost due to old age, poor planning, improper care and other stresses of the built environment. The role of a Vermont Tree Warden is more important today than ever, when communities lack an active Tree Warden, the effects on the town landscape are noticeable.
Overview of Tree Wardens Role
Provided by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns
The selectboard shall appoint a tree warden from among the legally qualified voters of the town. 24 V.S.A. § 871. Shade and ornamental trees within the limits of public rights of way are under the control of the tree warden. The tree warden may plan and implement a town shade tree preservation program for the purpose of shading and beautifying public ways and places by planting new trees and shrubs; by maintaining the health, appearance and safety of existing trees through feeding, pruning and protecting them from noxious insect pests and diseases; and by removing diseased, dying or dead trees which create a hazard to public safety or threaten the effectiveness of disease or insect control programs. 24 V.S.A. § 2502. A municipality may appropriate a sum of money to be expended by the tree warden or, if one is not appointed, by the selectboard. 24 V.S.A. § 2503.
The tree warden may not remove trees when the owner or lessee of abutting real estate annually controls all insect pests or tree diseases on trees within the limits of a highway or place abutting such real estate. The tree warden shall enforce all laws relating to public shade trees and may prescribe rules and regulations for the planting, protection, care and removal of public shade trees pursuant to the ordinance adoption procedure in 24 V.S.A. Chapter 59. The tree warden may enter into agreements with the owners of land adjoining or facing public ways and places for the purpose of encouraging and carrying out a community-wide shade tree planting and preservation program. Only the tree warden, deputy tree warden or someone with his or her permission may cut a public shade tree. Healthy public shade trees in the residential part of a residential neighborhood shall not be felled without a public hearing by the tree warden. The tree warden may request from the Commissioner of Agriculture recommendations for control of suspected infestations, may implement recommended control measures, and may enter private land to implement these control measures. 24 V.S.A. §§ 2504–2511.
Statutes related to Vermont Tree Wardens - PDF (56kb)
Being Active - Tips from fellow Tree Wardens
Determine Which Trees Are in Your Jurisdiction
- Determine Utility Easement Agreement with Town
- Determine “Right-of-Way” (ROW) boundaries
Let People Know You Are Interested and Active
- Contact your Utility Representative. The following link provides a map of Vermont electric utility service territories - PDF (222kb).
- Contact your AOT District Administrator if a state highway runs through your town.
- Periodically update the Selectboard of your activities
- Write up a brief synopsis of yearly activities for the Town Report like the number of trees removed, planted, pruned, inspected.
- Develop a positive relationship with the Road Commissioner and Road Crew(s).
|Working With Town Road Commissioner and Crews
|Provide information to them about proper pruning methods.
|Offer them a copy of the roadside vegetation manual.
|Ask to be kept informed if trees need to be removed, if they notice potentially dangerous trees, or if there is going to be construction that may impact trees.
|Offer your assistance in answering questions about tree health and safety.
|Ask for their input regarding tree planting/maintenance.
- Work with the Park & Recreation Director, Groundskeepers and Cemetery Commissioner(s). Provide information to them regarding weed trimmer & lawn mower damage, mulching. Seek their input regarding design and maintenance prior to planting.
- Attend Tree Board/Tree Group/Conservation Commission Meetings
- Ask for assistance
Start Working Toward Tree City USA Status
Tree Warden's Resources
- Holding a Public Hearing: The Tree Warden statutes state that a public hearing must be held if a public shade or ornamental tree in the residential part of town is to be removed and not infested with an insect or disease and not a hazard. We've outlined the steps on how to hold a public tree removal hearing.
- Vermont Electric Utilities: It is important for Tree Wardens to build a working relationship with their local electric utility company. The following link provides a map of Vermont electric utility service territories - PDF (222kb).
- Tree Removal Permit: When working with other town officials, it is helpful to have permits available for them to fill out if they would like to recommend a tree(s) for removal. The following link will provides an example tree removal permit for use - PDF (86 kb).
- Tree Wardens: The following link provides a list of Vermont Tree Wardens as reported to UVM Extension in 2008.
- Tree Ordinances/Policies: A tree ordinance is a formal long-term policy for dealing properly and effectively with tree care and public policy. Below are some resources to assist in developing an ordainance or policy, and examples of communities in Vermont that have enacted a tree ordinance or policy.
- Tree Removal Letter: Communicaion with the public is key for a Tree Warden. The following link provides an example of a tree removal letter.