We recognize the importance of providing Vermont's volunteer tree wardens with the resources that will allow them to best fulfill their responsibilities. On this page you will find documents and information that will aid public tree management throughout the state. Tree wardens, if you think there's something missing or you need further clarity please contact us.
If you are an appointed tree warden and have specific questions about legal interpretation of the Tree Warden Statutes, we recommend that you contact the Vermont League of Cities and Town's Municipal Assistance Center.
Tree Warden Statutes
The Vermont Tree Warden Statutes were amended during the 2020 legislative session, were signed into law by Governor Scott on October 8th, and will go into effect on November 1st, 2020. The bill webpage includes all versions of the bill and its movement through the legislature or you can access the final bill as enacted. VT UCF is in the process of developing a suite of resources to support municipalities and tree wardens in interpreting and implementing the amended statutes. View Frequently Asked Questions on the tree warden statutes or a PDF version here.
Trees and Utilities
Utilities, including power and telephone companies, also have rights within the public right-of-way. With permission from the Vermont Public Service Board, they may prune or cut trees that interfere with lines and poles along the roadside. 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: VT Electric Utilities Service Map.
Trees and Utilities: Cooperative Management Strategies for Success by Rutgers Cooperative Extension provides further insights into how utilities and trees can be managed together for the benefit of the community.
Tree Ordinances and Policies
A tree ordinance or policy is a municipal document, usually formally adopted, that defines local provisions and regulations for the care and management of the public tree population. A number of VT communities have chosen to establish their own tree ordinance or policy to build upon the Vermont Tree Warden Statutes, allowing them to expand upon tree warden responsibilities and locally define terms and phrases. Visit our public policy page to learn more and peruse adopted tree ordinances and policies statewide. Communities interested in drafting a shade tree preservation plan can apply for assistance by February 3, 2021 or stay tuned for sample shade tree preservation plans as they are created by municipalities.
Tree Assessments and Inventories
You can't manage what you don't know you have. In order to establish any tree management or preservation program, an inventory should be conducted. Visit our public tree inventory page to learn about our state-supported tree inventory tool. Visit our ash tree inventory page if you are interested in learning how towns have prepared for the arrival of the emerald ash borer by conducting an ash inventory and developing a community preparedness plan. Contact VT UCF Technical Assistance Coordinator, Joanne Garton, if you'd like to discuss how to best plan and conduct a tree inventory.
Identifying and Managing Hazardous Trees
As tree warden, one of the most important responsibilities is that of public safety. Trees, while wonderful in many ways, can also harm people or property if they fail. It is important to distinguish between trees that are healthy and those that pose a threat as well as trees in a hazardous location. Once hazard trees have been identified, it is important to manage these trees to eliminate the hazard posed. It is also vital to communicate with homeowners that may be impacted by tree removal. "How to Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees" and "Urban Tree Risk Management" identifies best practices regarding hazardous trees.