Tree warden: Call before you prune certain trees

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BELLOWS FALLS — With spring yard work about to start with a vengeance, Cass Wright, Rockingham's tree warden, has reminded residents they must contact him before doing any work on trees in the town's right-of-way.

Wright said Monday he posted an alert to residents on social media because there had been a couple of cases where tree contractors were working on trees in the town's right-of-way without permission.

He said any tree that is within 25 feet of the center line of a town road is within the town's right-of-way. Homeowners who want to prune or remove a tree in the right-of-way must get his written permission first, he said, citing state law.

Wright said he wasn't going to require the written permission, but he said he wanted residents and contractors to contact him so he could go and inspect the planned work.

The goal, he said, is to maintain the beauty of the town's trees along its roads, as well as maintain the safety of roads.

Landowners can plant trees or shrubs within the right-of-way, he said, but must get permission from the tree warden. If they want to prune such items, they also must get permission.

He said he did write the state law that covers his duties as tree warden.

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By law, each town must have a tree warden to address such concerns. "This is nothing unique to Rockingham," he said. "I'm concerned about the health of trees."

He said in recent weeks he had some unsafe trees — mostly dead — removed along the Saxtons River end of Pleasant Valley Road, on Hartley Hill Road and along Westminster West Road, outside of Saxtons River.

The town highway department takes care of emergency situations, such as the falling of some dead white oak trees recently on Red Light Hill.

"People should be aware of exactly where their property line is," Wright said.

He said in the village of Bellows Falls, people should not plant in the "green belt" area, that is, between the sidewalk and the road. The "green belt" land is actually owned by the village of Bellows Falls, and only select trees that won't disrupt the roads and underground utilities are planted in that area, he said. "Very seldom do they have space enough for a tree," he said.

Wright wants to encourage healthy trees in the town and the villages, since trees improve air quality, as well as providing shade. "They contribute to the overall quality of life in town," he said.

People should contact Wright at 802 289-7327. "I just want to spread the word," he said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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