When the time comes to prune or remove a tree, there are some important questions that need to be answered. Most importantly there needs to be an understanding of whether the tree in need of maintenance is located on private property or within the public right-of-way
. While property owners in Denver are responsible for maintaining the city trees within the right-of-way adjacent to their property, there are some very important regulations that protect how those trees are managed.
of Denver’s municipal code makes it is illegal to remove a right-of-way tree without first obtaining an approved permit from the City Forester. Denver’s street trees provide environmental, social and economic benefits that are of value to all residents, and for these reasons removal permit requests for healthy trees of value will often be denied. City trees that are removed without a permit are often worth thousands of dollars, and the city code requires that the responsible party compensate the City of Denver for the lost monetary value of the tree to the satisfaction of the City Forester.
The majority of trees on private property may be removed at the discretion of the property owner and their removal does not require a permit. However, when a property is in the process of demolition or construction, the zoning code grants the City Forester regulation over the trees within the front and side setbacks of the property. During demolition and construction, all trees located in the setbacks of a property must be protected and preserved throughout the project, and trees may not be removed without a permit from the City Forester.
Tree work is a dangerous activity, and major work often requires highly skilled individuals to complete the work safely. The professional arborist not only needs to been trained in safe tree work practices, but they also need to be well educated to understand the biology of trees. As trees are valuable and complex living organisms, the professional arborist can protect tree health and ensure the work is done safely. For the protection of person, property and tree health, Denver’s city code establishes that it is unlawful for any person to engage in the business of cutting, trimming, pruning, or removing trees without a license. The City Forester is obligated to establish and monitor licensed tree contractors for the City and County of Denver.
There are currently no requirements for permits to prune private property or public right-of-way trees. However it is very important to understand that city code does require that all pruning of right-of-way trees be done to industry standards. A private property owner is allowed to prune the city trees within the right-of-way adjacent to their property, but the work must be done not damage the trees. If a right-of-way tree is improperly pruned (topping for example) the City Forester may deem the tree to be irreparable damaged and reimbursement for the value of the tree may be required.