Tree Canopy

March 25, 2024 /
Christina Hester

The Time is Now: Support DC’s Trees!

As our city continues to grow and evolve, it’s crucial that we prioritize the health and sustainability of our urban forest. Recently, the DC Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a public hearing on Monday, March 18th, to discuss several proposed pieces of legislation aimed at protecting our trees and natural areas. Although this event has passed, your input remains vital as written testimony is still being accepted until April 2nd.

Let’s take a look back at the key points discussed during the hearing:

First, the Tree Preservation Enhancement Amendment Act would reduce the Special Tree threshold to 25” (instead of 44” trunk circumference), thereby protecting more trees that will have the largest ecological and environmental impact on our area. Our city has been losing tree canopy, and this bill will protect younger trees, ensuring they grow to maturity!


We are in strong support of this part of the bill. We are also in support of a stratification of fees for developers and an additional provision asking fees to be reassessed every 5 years to account for inflation. However, the bill has a major provision that would allow Heritage Trees (99″+ trunk circumference) to be removed if a fine is paid or a conservation easement is put in its place. We are worried that, as written, it could be a loophole to remove Heritage trees. We are against this provision and are recommending that it be removed from the bill. We believe that there is more research and study to be done on how Heritage trees could be managed before a policy like this is implemented.

Second, the Office of Natural Area Conservation Establishment Act seeks to create a new office within DOEE to more directly manage natural areas in DC and would support community-level groups who take care of forest patches in their neighborhoods. We support this bill, as it would bring more focus and resources to the protection of DC’s natural areas.

While the hearing has concluded, your involvement remains crucial. The written testimony period is open until April 2nd. You can still make your voice heard by submitting your written testimony. If you live near a forest patch or green space that would benefit from this kind of dedicated support, we encourage you to share them as part of your testimony.

Here’s a sample email template you can use to craft your testimony:

“Chairperson Allen, 

My name is [***your name***] and I am a resident of Ward [***X***]. I want to express my support for B25-487, the Office of Natural Area Conservation Establishment Act – and creating an Office of Natural Area Conservation. DC’s greenspaces are what make DC a special place to live. We are a national leader in park accessibility, so it’s time we dedicate resources to maintaining the natural beauty of our parks. 

[***Feel free to add a few sentences about what parks mean to you and your experience with DC parks!***] 

I also would like to add my thoughts on B25-472: the Tree Preservation Enhancement Amendment Act. While I am in favor of reducing the Special tree size threshold, I do not support creating an option to remove Heritage trees. We need to protect both our young and old trees to have a healthy, generational canopy across Washington, DC. 

Thank you for considering these bills.” 

Remember to always be respectful in your letters and testimony! Your participation is crucial in shaping the future of our urban forest. Don’t miss the opportunity to have your voice heard by submitting your written testimony before April 2nd. Thank you for being an advocate for DC’s trees and helping us to keep DC green.