A large pin oak in the fall

Urban Forest Preservation Act 2002

D.C.’s trees provide many ecological, social, and economic benefits. To protect this valuable natural resource, the Urban Forest Preservation Act of 2002, also known as the Tree Bill, was enacted in 2003.

The Act established rules for the removal of Special Trees (trees 55 inches in circumference or larger) and established a Tree Fund to plant replacement trees and defray implementation costs.

Under the Act, no person can top, cut down, remove, girdle, break, or destroy a Special Tree without obtaining a permit.  The penalty for removing a tree without a permit is a fine of no less than $100 per inch of circumference (up to $15,000).  For example, if a Special Tree with a 60 inch circumference is removed without a permit, the fine will be $6,000.

A removal permit is granted if:

  • A tree is deemed hazardous or invasive; or
  • Replacement saplings are planted (with their aggregate circumference equal to the removed tree); or
  • A $35/inch of the Special Tree’s circumference fee is paid into the Tree Fund

If you witness what you believe to be unlawful tree removal or damage, immediately report the issue by calling 311 (the Mayor’s service request center), going online to http://311.dc.gov, or using the 311 smartphone app.