Oak and other trees provide an abundance of shade and other benefits to the community, and that’s why their maintenance and removal is regulated by Hillsborough County.

By Brad Stager

An oak tree by any other name would be just as shady on a bright summer day.

But when it comes to removing a tree of the genus Quercus and many other types of trees, Hillsborough County’s Natural Resources team also sees it in terms of location, such as street right-of-way, yard, wetland or conservation area, as well as size when it comes to permitting removal.

The county’s Land Development Code is the primary source of the regulations applying to tree removal in unincorporated Hillsborough County and relevant guidance is available to the public in the form of the county’s online publication, Residential Tree Removal Guide.

The guide contains information to help determine whether a permit is required to remove or trim a tree, as well as how to proceed with planting an appropriate type and number of replacement trees which may be required even if a removal permit is not needed.

Among considerations are a tree’s diameter (as determined by a simple formula), the type of property it is on and the tree’s location within the property.

Some species of trees, such as Australian pine and earleaf acacia, may not require a permit to be removed from private lots, but if they are within a wetland or a body of water, contacting the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission is required to determine if the tree can be removed or trimmed, as these trees are regulated by the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC).

Stricter requirements are in place for trimming or removing grand oak trees, including submitting a grand oak pruning affidavit filled out by a certified arborist to the Natural Resources staff prior to the trimming.

In the cases of dangerous trees, permitting can be waived if a certified arborist or licensed landscape architect evaluates and properly documents the claim and submits a dangerous tree declaration to the county.

According to Natural Resources Review Manager Carrie Moore, there is a good reason the county takes an interest in the trees within its jurisdiction.

“It helps to maintain a high quality of life for the citizens of Hillsborough County,” she told attendees of a recent tree removal webinar.

Violations of tree removal regulations could result in a financial penalty as well as an obligation to mitigate tree loss.

You can find more information about the requirements for removing trees by visiting the Natural Resources section at hillsboroughcounty.org or calling 627-1300.

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