DC Goals & Laws
This construction equipment is too close to this young street tree.
Construction rules to protect trees NEW!
Construction rules to protect trees NEW! Big machines can whack a tree or overrun its growing space in one horrible moment. On Embassy Row the streets are being dug by DC Water (formerly WASA). Meanwhile, several renovations of historic properties are under way. The fine city street trees we prize and care for are threatened.
But city rules require construction crews to protect trees, with penalties for noncompliance. Here is our flyer to help the public – that is EVERYONE in DC - assure that crews follow the rules.
Doing our part
We’ve arranged for 125 new yard trees and more than 100 city street trees, that extend the tree canopy along one of the nation’s most historic streets. A birdseye view can be found on our Map & Tour page.
The Mayor committed to expanding DC’s urban tree canopy by 5%, to 40% of land area, by 2035. By then 2,014 more acres must be shaded by maturing trees. To reach this goal, 8,600 new trees should be planted each year. “Canopy” is the layer of tree leaves and branches seen from above. The extent of Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) can be measured by satellites.
A Bigger Urban Forest
So Washington needs 2,000 more acres of large-type shade trees for DC to comply with EPA air and water standards. The capital needs a bigger urban forest also to fight global warming and to help to save the Chesapeake Bay. Our city could save tons of money if more trees grow to maturity. One reason: streets and sidewalks under big trees cost less to maintain. Links to these requirements and the DC urban forest Master Plan are below.
Highlights of the Urban Forest Preservation Act of 2002
RMA Treekeeper measures a 55 inch diameter linden on Mass Ave.
Glass Construction saved this street tree throughout two years of renovations at 2344 Mass Ave. When work started the linden was struggling. Thank you!
Protection: Cutting is unlawful of “special trees” on private or public land, defined as those 55 inches or more in diameter, measured 4.5 feet above ground. The Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) must inspect the tree in advance and issue a permit. Fines for violations are $100 per inch, or $6,000 for a 60-inch diameter tree.
Construction: The Act defines the “zone” around trees that must be protected during construction, to save the roots. Four foot high fences are required to keep trucks etc off these sensitive zones around trees. There must be no dumping or flow of wet cement near the tree’s soil and roots. (It would help if work crews watered the tree zones, too!) For details, start with DDOT’s Tree Guidelines.
Foreign missions are obliged to comply with the UFPA and other DC codes, per the Foreign Missions Act [22 USC 4301-4316] and regulations. Many embassies are glad to help the community by compliance with the UFPA and planting trees to expand the urban forest and add value to this landmark Grand Avenue. Many Ambassadors personally have planted trees with RMA and Casey Trees (see Events).
We’re all in this together
Foreign missions are obliged to comply with the UFPA and other DC codes, per the Foreign Missions Act [22 USC 4301-4316 and regulations. Many embassies are glad to help the community by compliance with the UFPA and planting trees to expand the urban forest and add value to this landmark Grand Avenue. Many Ambassadors personally have planted trees with RMA and Case Trees (see Events).
Worried a tree is in danger?
Call the UFA at 202-671-6133. For tree or other services call 311 or go online to http://311.dc.gov/.
Mowers wound young trees
Mowing is through the Department of Public Works. Call DPW 202-673-6833 if a tree may is in danger from mowers. Meanwhile, move a rock next to the tree! (Shhh…. Put a rock next to a tree that may be hit by mowers.)
Urban Forest Preservation Act (2002) and regulations: FAQ and Summary by Casey Trees Summary is at
A pdf of the law is here. See city page for regulations.
Tree Master Plan: Assessment of Urban Forest Resources and Strategy (June 2010)
DC neighborhood plans: District’s Comprehensive Plan
Air Pollution-SIP for 8-Hour Ozone USEPA: Plan to Improve Air Quality in the Washington, DC-‐MD-‐VA Region
Water quality-discharge overflows in storms: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) with the Environmental Protection Agency
Chesapeake Bay cities’ commitment to tree canopy goals: Chesapeake Bay Program Executive Council’s Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and Center.
The city’s grade was B- in Casey Trees’ second annual Tree Report Card – 2009 which was released at a Tree Summit held March 25, 2010, with Metropolitan Washington Council Of Governments. See Urban Tree News, April 2010, "Summit Gives Overview of DC Trees."
Restore Mass Ave advances our common goals:
We explain the UFPA to property owners, to save present big trees and forest.
We help owners and the city plant shade trees, chosen to recreate the historic landscape.
When a “special tree” must be cut down, we advise on the replacement trees required by the UFPA.
We track policy concerning the urban forest, particularly for 144,000 street trees.
Want to know more? Please go to our City Policy page