The Catholic University of America


Summary of District of Columbia Laws

Preservation of Special Trees

DC Code 8-651.04; 24 DCMR 3700 and 3701.

In order to decrease pollution, increase property value and otherwise improve the aesthetics of the District, regulations require applying for a removal permit in order to cut down or significantly reduce the size of certain trees. The two types of trees regulated are special trees (defined as any tree with a circumference of 44-100 inches when measured at 4 and ½ feet) and heritage trees (trees with a circumference of more than one hundred inches when measured at 4 and ½ feet off the ground). Special trees may only be cut down or otherwise removed if they are hazardous or a species that is appropriate for removal under 24 DCMR 3701.9. Trees may also be moved on the condition that $55 per inch of circumference is paid into a special tree fund, or a promise is made that the remover will plant a number of saplings whose aggregate circumference is equal to that of the original tree.

Heritage trees, however may only be removed if they are hazardous or on the appropriate species list. Appropriate species for removal are limited to ailantis, mulberry and Norway maple trees. A violation of the tree removal statue or regulations will incur a fine of at least $300 per inch of circumference, subject to increase by the mayor of the District.

To remove a special tree, the owner of the land must submit a removal permit application at least fifteen days before the desired removal date. The application must contain the address of the property and any other information the Urban Forestry Administration requires. An Urban Forestry inspector will the inspect the special tree removal site and determine whether the tree in question is hazardous or of an appropriate species. If that determination is positive, a removal permit will be granted. When a removal permit is granted, the authority to remove the tree lasts 180 days from the date of the issuance of the permit. 




page created 12-4-16 text by Kelby Carlson