July 28, 2017

Tree Talk: Lakefront tree work by Robert Fogg

In this article, I would like to focus on tree cutting/pruning in the shore land zone, particularly the area that lies within 100’ of a lake or stream. In this area, we use the "point system" to help us determine what, if any, cutting is allowed.

We start by gridding the shorefront off into 25' X 50' sections (or 25' X 25' in some towns) and then we measure and map the existing trees. The measurement is taken at 4 ½ feet above the ground, referred to as diameter at Breast Height (DBH). 

Each tree is given a point designation, based on its size (the larger the tree, the higher the point value). We must maintain a minimum of 24 points (or 12 points in some towns) before any surplus trees may be removed. To discourage the removal of only the small trees and leaving only large trees, no more than half of the 24 points in each grid section  may come from trees 12" diameter or larger. 

Trees that are dead, dying or dangerous (as determined by a licensed Arborist) are usually allowed to be removed, but often, if this takes a grid section below the minimum required points, new small trees will be required to be planted to take their place, unless new growth is present. Any tree that is smaller than 2" diameter (DBH), but taller than 3' is considered a sapling. A minimum of 5 saplings must be left, if possible, in each grid section. Any vegetation that is 3' tall or shorter is considered ground cover. No ground cover can be removed except for a 6' wide winding path to the water. A tree may not be stripped of live limbs any higher than the lowest 1/3 of its height. Dead limbs are ok to remove at any height. 

The actual shore land zone goes back a total of 250' from the water, but the first 100' is the most
critical and the most heavily protected. No more than 40 per cent of the basal area of trees over 4" DBH may be removed from the entire 250' shore land zone in any 10-year period. 

http://sabreyachts.com/contactFines for violations can be substantial. Each town has a code enforcement officer that oversees this tree cutting. Many towns now require a permit for any shore land zone tree cutting. If you have questions, you should contact your town code officer and/or a competent Arborist. Keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for whatever cutting is done, so it pays to know the rules and/or work with an Arborist that you trust completely to stay within the rules. After all, the rules are in place to help keep our lakes and streams clean, which is good for us all.

The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist. He can be reached at RobertFogg@Q-Team.com or 207-693-3831.

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