Municipalities now have the option to adopt a shade tree preservation plan written by and for local staff, volunteers, and interested residents. A shade tree preservation plan describes a municipal shade tree program and can extend the jurisdiction of the tree warden beyond the core duties now specified in the law. Outlined in the 2020 amendments of the Vermont Tree Warden Statutes, these plans are new in Vermont and have no precise precedent, although some municipalities may adapt their existing tree ordinances or policies to incorporate required and optional elements of shade tree preservation plans.
VT UCF is currently working with 10 municipalities to draft shade tree preservation plans: Charlotte, East Montpelier, Hartford, Johnson, Middlebury, Monkton, Mount Holly, Shrewbury, Saint Albans, and West Windsor. Examples of plans will be available in the spring of 2022.
For specific questions on these plans, contact Joanne Garton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shade Tree Preservation Plans
In accordance with statute 24 V.S.A. § 2502, if a community would like to expand the role of the tree warden, (beyond caring for municipally-planted and designated shade trees) a Shade Tree Preservation Plan may be adopted. The plan must include:
- Description of any program for the planting of new trees and shrubs;
- Provide for the maintenance of shade trees through feeding, pruning, and protection from noxious insect and disease pests;
- Determine the apportionment of costs for tree warden services provided to other municipal corporations;
- Determine whether tree maintenance or removal on specific municipal property shall require the approval of another municipal officer or legislative body; and
- Determine the process, not inconsistent with this chapter, for the removal of:
(A) diseased, dying, or dead shade trees; and
(B) any shade trees that create a hazard to public safety, impact a disease or insect control program, or must be removed to comply with State or federal law or permitting requirements.
Additionally, plans may include:
- Map locations or zones within the municipality where all trees in whole or in part within a public way or place shall be designated as shade trees; and
- Designate as a shade tree any tree in whole or in part within a public way, provided that the tree warden and legislative body of the municipality find that the tree is critical to the cultural, historical, or aesthetic character of the municipality.