Roadside Tree Law

The Application Review Process and Appeal Process

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.

A request must be made to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service office in the County where the tree exists. Request must include location (street address) of tree or grouped trees, property owner(s) name and address, the type of tree care requested and why. If the proposed tree care is due to a building permit, please include a site plan.

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 / Appeal Process

After the application form, fee and site plan (if applicable) have been received by the local Project Office, the review process will be as follows:

  1. A Forest Ranger will complete an on-site examination of the tree(s) to determine if the proposed tree care is necessary and/or to approve, modify, or deny the application as appropriate.
  2. The Forest Ranger will contact you if additional information or modification is required.
  3. If the application is approved, the permit will be mailed or emailed to the address provided on the application form.
  4. If the application is denied, a denial letter will be mailed explaining the decision and the appeal process.

Upon approval, the permit will be mailed or emailed to the applicant's address shown on the application. After the permit is issued, the applicant may proceed with the work; however, the roadside tree law does not convey tree ownership to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Permission from the owner of the tree or trees in question (State Highway Administration, county department of transportation, county or city department of public works, etc.) must also be obtained prior to beginning any work. Work on the tree or trees in question without permission of the owner may be considered a trespass by the owner of the tree or trees despite possession of a valid permit from the DNR. The tree expert must have a copy of the permit on site while work is being performed. 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. ​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.

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 or included in the original application that warrant a reevaluation and be attached to the denied application. The request should be addressed to the Department of Natural Resources Project Manager, as shown on the application. The Project Manager will respond in writing to the applicant listed on the application.