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

 

Senate Bill Would Reduce Tree Mitigation Requirements Across Texas

A bill in the Texas Legislature would reduce tree mitigation standards for new development. SB 744, by Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), would preempt mitigation standards in all 77 local tree ordinances across the state.

In a nutshell, SB 744 allows builders and developers to plant fewer trees or pay less mitigation fees than are currently required. It accomplishes this by requiring cities to count newly-planted, 2” diameter, trees as if they were half of their fully mature size. This will result in an (approximately) 85% reduction in mitigation fees or mitigation trees, depending on how “fully mature size” is evaluated.

 

Where is the bill today (4-4-17)?

It has been approved by a Senate committee and submitted to the full Senate for a vote.

An identical bill, HB 2052, has been referred to the House Committee on Urban Affairs and will be considered in a public hearing, possibly the week of April 9th .

 

Who should 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.