Texas Tree Legislation

Texas Tree Legislation

Article written by
Richard Alles, Forests/Trees Conservation Leader

Alamo Group of the Sierra Club

(210) 494-2088

alamosierraclub@gmail.com

www.alamosierraclub.org

 

Bills Would Reduce Tree Mitigation Requirements Across Texas

Two bills in the Texas Legislature would reduce tree mitigation standards for new development. SB 744 and its identical companion bill, HB 2052, would preempt mitigation standards in all 77 local tree ordinances across the state.

In a nutshell, the bills allow builders and developers to plant fewer trees or pay less mitigation fees than are currently required. The bills were written by the Texas Association of Builders (TAB).

Where are the bills today (on 4-13-17)?

SB 744 was passed unanimously by the Senate. HB 2052 is awaiting a public hearing in the House Committee on Urban Affairs. This hearing will likely occur April 18th or 25th.

Lack of opposition in the Senate results from an agreement among major cities, TX Municipal League and TAB. Cities agreed to drop opposition to the bills in exchange for TAB’s pledge not to move the tree clearcutting bills.

These “clearcutting” bills would allow developers to clearcut trees, even old heritage trees, and strip most of the authority cities currently have to regulate tree removal. For reference, the clearcutting bills are SB 782 & its companion HB 2535 by Bill Zedler (R-Arlington), SB 898, and SB 1082 by Konni Burton (R-Fort Worth).

Who can I contact?

There are two Representatives from the DFW area on the House committee:

Rep. Jeff Leach | email | Austin office phone: (512) 463-0544

Rep. Bill Zedler | email | Austin office phone: (512) 463-0374

You can contact your state Senator and Representative by entering your address at Who Represents Me?

What is tree mitigation?

Municipalities typically require tree mitigation to compensate for excessive and/or unnecessary tree removal from development sites. It can take many forms, but the most common are payment of fees into a tree planting fund or replanting of new, smaller trees.

Standards vary widely among municipalities. In San Antonio, mitigation is required when more than 65% of trees larger than 6” diameter are removed for a new residential subdivision. In addition, every heritage tree (larger than 24” trunk diameter) removed must be mitigated. Mitigation is not required for any trees removed for streets, easements or rights-of-way.