Passed in 1914, this Law and its regulations were developed to protect our roadside trees by ensuring their proper care and protection and to ensure their compatibility with an efficient and dependable public utility system.
Millions of trees grow along the more than 30,000 miles of improved roads in Maryland. The trees growing along our roadways and in our communities are an important urban and community resource. They provide aesthetic, environmental, economic, and social benefits.
The Maryland DNR Forest Service protects trees along our public road rights-of way through enforcement of the Roadside Tree Law.
Before Trimming a Roadside Tree
Before a roadside tree is trimmed or cared for in any way, a Tree Care Permit must be obtained from the Maryland DNR Forest Service. A roadside tree is any tree that grows all or in part within a public road right-of-way. A permit is also needed to plant a tree within the public road right-of-way.
Any work (including the removal of a tree having a permit) performed on a street tree must be done by a Licensed Tree Care Expert.
When tree care is performed on a roadside tree without a permit, a fine may be assessed or more severe actions taken by the Department of Natural Resources.
Why Permits are Necessary
Permits are a good tool that help to protect our street trees. Issuance of Tree Care Permits is important to ensure:
Who Should Apply for a Permit?
If you believe a roadside tree is a hazard, or if you are replacing or maintaining community street trees as part of an overall plan, you should apply for a roadside tree permit before any tree care work is performed.
How to Apply for a Permit
A request must be made to the Maryland DNR Forest Service office in the County where the tree exists. Request must include location (street address) of tree or grouped trees, adjacent property owner(s) name and address, the type of tree care requested and why.
If the request is approved, the permit procedure requires that the property owner who has a roadside tree (within the public road right-of-way) in front of his/her property signs the application. If the roadside tree straddles two properties, both owners must sign the same application. The actual submittal (& fee) can be accomplished by an agent of the owner (ie: Licensed Tree Expert) at the owner's expense.
The Application Review Process
After the request has been received by the local Project Office, the review process will be as follows:
If the application is approved, the property owner(s) must sign the application and return it to the proper Maryland DNR Forest Service Regional Office with a check or money order (made payable to the DNR) in the amount of $25.00 for the permit.
Upon approval and receipt by DNR of the signed application and fee, a permit will be issued and mailed to the applicant's address shown on the application. After the
permit is issued, the applicant may proceed with the work. Permits are valid for one year from date of issuance. If work is not done within one year, a new inspection and permit is necessary.
The Department of Natural Resources is the permitting agency but does not perform the tree work. The DNR will notify the local jurisdiction that the permit has been issued. Local tree care involvement varies per town and county, and if customary, the county or municipal government will schedule the work to be done. Upon receipt of the permit, the homeowner may hire a Licensed Tree Expert to perform the work allowed per the permit.
The Appeal Process
If your application is denied and you wish to appeal, you must
make a written request for a reevaluation of the application. This request must be made within 10 working days of notification of permit denial. The request must be in the form of a letter which clearly notes additional circumstances not previously known that warrant a reevaluation and be attached to the denied application. The request should be addressed to the DNR Project Manager, as shown on the application.
The Project Manager then will inspect the tree(s) and respond in writing to the applicant listed on the application.
About Tree Replacements
Permits issued for tree removal require replanting a tree(s) as a condition of approval unless otherwise noted. Tree planting is the responsibility of the applicant and must be completed within one year of removal. (Spring planting is recommended.)
Roadside Trees and Utilities
Commonly Asked Questions
About the Roadside Tree Permit Process:
Q:Where should I send my permit application for processing?
A: Permit applications should be sent to the DNR Forest Service in the county where the work is being requested. For a listing of DNR Forest Services offices, please refer to: County Map
Q: Where will I find the Ranger's final determination?
A: After completing the on-site examination, the reviewing Ranger's remarks were added to the application that was returned to the applicant. See the application's section titled, "Response to Request."
Q: The Ranger has approved my application. What happens next?
A: The applicant must sign and return the approved application with the fee to the proper Maryland DNR Forest Service Project Office. Once the approved and signed application and fee have been received, DNR will issue a permit to the applicant.
Q: Who will do the tree care work?
A: There are a few options: 1) In some jurisdictions, a copy of the permit will be provided by DNR to the local public agency so that the tree work will be added to their work roster and performed by that jurisdiction. DNR does not perform the tree work or removals nor have any influence on the local jurisdiction's work schedule. Specific questions regarding a jurisdiction's schedule should be directed to that jurisdiction's public works office, not to DNR. 2) Once the homeowner has received the permit, they may hire a qualified and Licensed Tree Expert (licensed by DNR) to perform the approved tree care work. Before hiring a contractor, verification should be obtained to ensure that the selected contractor is licensed or that the license is current.
Contact Maryland DNR Forest Service office for permits and permit questions.
Maryland DNR Forest Service
580 Taylor Avenue
Tawes State Office Building, E-1
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
(410) 260-8511 Fax: (410) 260-8595
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401