The District of Columbia (“D.C.”) has a relatively long history of being known for its trees, stemming back to the planting of 60,000 trees initiated by the last Governor of D.C., Alexander “Boss” Shepard in the 1870s. While his tenure was brief, his vision of D.C. being the “City of Trees” endured as tree planting efforts were continued by the Federal Government, National Park agencies, citizens, and leaders such as Lady Bird Johnson. (See City of Trees by Melanie Choukas-Bradley 3rd Edition.)
Today, the goal of preserving and increasing D.C.’s tree population continues. One of D.C.’s top sustainability goals is to increase the tree canopy of the city from 35% to 40% by 2032. (https://doee.dc.gov/service/canopy-3000.) In furtherance of this goal, updates to the Urban Forest Preservation Act, as set forth in the Sustainable D.C. Act of 2014, were enacted formally into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser in in 2016. (D.C. Code § 8-651 et seq.) “Sustainable D.C. 2.0” (http://www.sustainabledc.org/in-dc/sdc2-0/) continues to prioritize green space and trees and incorporates both into its climate mitigation strategies, along with strategies related to energy efficiency, healthy communities, and increased access to nature.
The D.C. Code now sets forth specific laws to protect “Heritage” and “Special Trees” that are governed by District Department of Transportation (“DDOT”), as will be explained below. (https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/DCMR/RuleDetail.aspx?RuleId=R0020859.)
However, these are not the only tree protection laws that developers must be aware of – the 2016 Zoning Regulations set forth even stricter tree protection standards for certain residential neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are those that the D.C. Government considers important for tree canopy, air quality, soil protection and erosion, storm water management, and cultural significance.
Below are four types of tree-related issues to be aware of when planning a development project in D.C. Knowing how these four issues apply to a specific project will save both time and money and will help ensure the overall viability of a proposed project, as just one relatively large tree in an inopportune place can have an immense and costly impact on a project. Read more ›