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Recently the Michigan Senate introduced Bills 1188-1194. This bill would prohibit local units of government from adopting and enforcing certain ordinances that prohibit or restrict removal or trimming of trees and vegetation on private property of specific zoning classifications.

Read the full bill here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billengrossed/Senate/pdf/2018-SEBS-1188.pdf

What does this mean?

If this Bill is signed by the Governor it would severely reduce tree replacements when commercial and residential sites are being cleared and re-landscaped because it would eliminate local ordinance control over tree trimming/ removals. This means that local governments, like Grand Rapids, who have very well thought out and well written tree ordinances will not be able to effectively manage and monitor the forests within our city limits.

Why is it important that we manage our forests?

Because trees are important to the health and wellness of a city and its residence on so many levels. Trees may be managed at an individual scale, but the forest as a whole works as a cohesive unit, and must be treated and thought of as a cohesive unit. Tree ordinances serve a critical role in promoting local objectives, like the ones Friends works toward with all of our amazing partners and volunteers. Removing these ordinances as a policy option can significantly limit local authorities to manage stormwater (a regulatory factor), air quality, promote public health, and protect property values.

IF tree ordinances are good then why does this bill exist?

Tree ordinances can be well written or poorly written. Yet, a couple of poorly written ordinances do not justify nullification of an entire policy principle as SB 1188 would achieve. There is a growing number of cities around Michigan that have written good, effective, fact and science based resources. These Bills could potentially eliminate all of the hard work these cities have done to properly manage the forests in their cities.

Consider these facts:

  • This bill is hastily constructed based on an isolated example,(see link below on Canton, MI) rather than a fully and well understood exploration of the issue with professional stakeholders at the table.
  • The amendments, as written, has included zero input from professionals who work within these policy environments and deeply understand these natural issues. Policies of this sort should include input from the professional arborists and foresters who know trees, interact with such ordinances, and can avoid obvious pitfalls of hastily-written bills.
  • Tree protection, tree preservation, woodlot protection and similar ordinances remain an important tool to protect property values, manage stormwater, and reduce erosion. The amendments continue to broadly restrict communities from requiring consideration of tree removal, particularly during development activities. Rather than eliminating local control of a policy instrument, we should be working to encourage ordinance compliance with nationally-accepted best practices.
  • Local ordinances are designed to provide incentives towards preservation of some on-site trees and against wholesale land clearing during development activities.
  • Recent research efforts have clearly established that trees provide numerous public benefits.
  • Trees intercept and mitigate rainwater during storm events. Predictatory models further demonstrate the loss of tree canopy in urban and suburban environments can significantly increase stormwater; stormwater that must be managed via increased traditional infrastructure such as storm drains and sewers at significant public expense.
  • Groups such as the ISA, American Planning Association, MDNR, United States Forest Service, The Morton Arboretum, American Forests, and others recognize that tree ordinances, tree preservation ordinances, woodlot preservation ordinances and similar policies are important instruments to accomplish community goals, establish clear regulatory guidance, and protect public resources.

Please let your representatives know that you value your urban forest today!

Lookup and email or call your Representatives here!

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