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Tree Removal Service Billings Mt

Regulatory Frameworks for Managing Tree Removal Impact in Billings, MT

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Trees significantly enhance the beauty of a city, aid in air purification, and offer numerous other benefits. Nevertheless, there are times when removing trees becomes necessary due to issues like uncontrolled growth, disease, or potential hazards. The city of Billings, Montana is aware of these challenges and demonstrates expertise in managing its tree population and carrying out essential tree removal tasks. This article aims to examine the environmental regulations related to tree removal in Billings and evaluate the methods used to encourage eco-friendly practices.

Understanding Billings’ Tree-Related Ordinances

regulatory frameworks for tree removal

The Billings City Code contains the primary ordinances governing tree management within the city:

  • Title 11: Park, Recreation, and Cemeteries. This title covers regulations for trees located on public property, such as parks, boulevards (the strip between the sidewalk and the street), and public right-of-ways.
  • Title 17: Zoning Code. This title includes regulations about trees on private property to land development and zoning requirements.

Key Provisions for Tree Removal

The following are essential aspects of these ordinances that guide tree removal in Billings:

  • Tree Removal Permits: In most cases, a permit is required to remove a tree on public property. The application process involves an assessment by a city arborist or forester to determine if the removal is justified. Factors considered include the tree’s health, safety risks, and potential impacts on the surrounding environment.
  • Protected Trees: The ordinances may identify certain tree species or trees of a specific size (usually measured in diameter) as protected. Removing these trees often requires more stringent justification and may necessitate mitigation measures.
  • Replacement Requirements: When removing a tree, particularly from public property, you may be required to plant replacement trees. The city may specify the number, size, and species of trees to be planted to offset the environmental impact of the removal.
  • Development-Related Tree Preservation: The zoning code often includes provisions for preserving trees during development projects. Developers may need to submit a tree preservation plan and take measures to protect existing trees during construction activities.

Who Enforces Regulatory Frameworks for Tree Removal in Billings?

Depending on where the tree is located, different entities are responsible for enforcing tree regulations:

  • Public Property: The Parks and Recreation Department, particularly its Urban Forestry Division, handles matters related to trees on public property. This includes issuing permits, managing tree planting and maintenance, and providing educational resources on tree care.
  • Private Property: The Planning and Community Services Department primarily oversees tree issues on private property, especially concerning development and zoning compliance.

Additional Regulations to Consider

Besides the primary city ordinances, other regulatory frameworks that may affect tree removal:

  • Neighborhood Covenants: Some homeowners associations or neighborhoods have additional rules related to tree preservation or species that may be planted.
  • Utility Easements: Trees within utility easements might have restrictions imposed to ensure access for maintenance and minimize interference with power lines.

Sustainable Practices for Tree Removal and Management

While tree removal is sometimes unavoidable, responsible practices can minimize the environmental impact and support a healthy urban forest. Here are some sustainable approaches:

  • Assess Before Removing: Thoroughly evaluate the need for tree removal. Consult with a certified arborist for expert advice on if the tree can be saved through treatment, pruning, or alternative solutions.
  • Proper Removal Techniques: If removal is necessary, ensure it’s done safely and in a way that minimizes damage to surrounding vegetation and soil.
  • Recycle or Repurpose Wood: Consider recycling removed tree wood into mulch or using it for other purposes like lumber or firewood instead of disposing of it in landfills.
  • Strategic Replanting: When replacement trees are required or desired, select species native to the area and well-suited to the planting site. Consider diversity in your planting plan for resilience.

Resources for Residents and Developers

The City of Billings offers resources to guide residents and developers on responsible tree management:

  • Billings Tree Board: An advisory board that provides recommendations and supports tree-related policymaking.
  • Urban Forestry Division Website: Information on tree care, permits, and educational resources.
  • Planning and Community Services Website: Find regulations related to development and zoning.
  • Montana State University Extension Service: Provides science-based resources on tree selection, planting, and care.

Beyond Ordinances: Best Practices for Tree Stewardship

While understanding regulatory frameworks is essential, embracing sustainable tree management goes beyond mere compliance. Here are the best practices for residents, developers, and the city itself:

  • Prioritize Tree Health: Invest in proactive tree care, including regular watering (especially during drought), proper pruning, and pest and disease management. Healthy trees are less likely to become hazards requiring removal.
  • Integrate Tree Planning into Development: Encourage developers to design projects that incorporate existing trees rather than seeing them as obstacles. Plan green spaces that accommodate mature tree growth as part of development projects.
  • Community Education and Involvement: Foster a culture of tree appreciation through public outreach campaigns, volunteer tree-planting events, and educational programs in partnership with schools and community groups.
  • Invest in the Urban Forestry Program: Support adequate funding for the city’s Urban Forestry Division to ensure sufficient staffing, equipment, and resources to manage the urban forest effectively.
  • Partnerships for Conservation: Explore collaborations with non-profit organizations, conservation groups, and businesses to promote tree planting initiatives, and tree education programs, and expand the city’s green infrastructure.


The regulatory frameworks for tree removal in Billings provide a foundation for environmental protection. However, true sustainability requires a community-wide commitment to tree preservation, responsible tree management, and strategic long-term planning. By fostering a culture of appreciation for these green assets and investing in proactive measures, Billings can protect and enhance its invaluable urban forest, ensuring its benefits for years to come.