Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Predatory Tree Harvesting

Imagine the following scenario:

You are at home one day and you hear a knock. The person at the door tells you that he was driving through your neighborhood and happened to notice that you have a very dangerous tree which is overhanging your house - and that it really should be taken down immediately for your family's and neighbor's safety. He then offers to remove this tree and grind the stump for a very cheap rate (as he is the owner of a small tree service) - but you have to decide right away since his crew is not too busy at the moment.

This might seem like a good deal. Why worry about a bad tree? Perhaps you should just say "yes" now and have everything taken care of...

In this situation, the tree service will come and cut the tree, then haul away the wood for re-sale to lumber mills (or where ever). They can make over a thousand dollars per tree (depending upon size, condition and species) for such re-sale! Even a tree in bad condition might net them an extra $500 re-sale.

Unfortunately for you, they don't bother to provide a supporting arborist's report with a thorough hazard analysis. (Your tree could actually be quite healthy after all! Second opinions are ALWAYS recommended for major trees.) Nor do they bother to get a town or village Tree Removal Permit. (As the home owner, you are the responsible party and thus may be fined for the illegal tree removal in addition to being responsible for restitution planting. This could get pretty expensive for you - all because the simple process of filing for a permit was ignored. Check with your village or town clerk's office to determine tree permit requirements.)

Least you think this to be an unlikely scenario, this actually transpired last month in my village. The tree company, from out of the area, was cruising around residential neighborhoods looking for high value trees to target. In this case, the tree removed was a 48" DBH Silver Maple in perfect health (as determined by the various trunk cross-sections showing absolutely no decay or infection.)

Concerned neighbors reported the tree cutting while it was occurring, inquiring whether or not a permit had been approved. Ultimately, both the home owner and the tree company have been issued violations. The court case is in process now.


-mg- said...

By the way - "DBH" means "diameter at breast height" - a standard arborist measurement taken at approximately 48" off the ground.

Aaron Schmidt - Town of Greenburgh Forestry Officer said...

It is good to see that the Village has issued a violation to the tree company as well.

With similar situations in the Town of Greenburgh, any summons issued names both parties - the property owner and the company who performed the work. They are both held accountable before the Town Justice Court.