News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters moves to protect heritage trees

A little housekeeping in Sisters’ codes will provide some extra protection for Sisters’ most prized trees.

On recommendations from the Urban Forestry Board and the Planning Commission, Sisters City Council unanimously voted to approve amendments to ordinances of the Sisters development code and municipal code pertaining to urban forestry and protections for heritage trees.

Sections in the development code having to do with the Urban Forestry Board and public trees were updated and moved to the municipal code, adding protection for heritage trees. The benefit of shifting the language out of the development code to the municipal code is that tree removal on public property and public rights of way will become enforceable both during and outside of land-use applications and proceedings. The move will provide greater clarity to staff and members of the public.

Sisters’ public works director will be responsible for management of the City’s public trees and oversight of the Urban Forestry Board, rather than the Community Development Director.

The change will not impact the City’s ability to comply with the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City requirement (Sisters has been a Tree City for 14 years) relating to review of existing trees on private property during development and street trees associated with development.

A heritage tree has been defined as a tree that, because of its age, size, type, historical association, and/or horticultural value, is of special importance to the city.

Some of the key points related to heritage trees include:

•The preservation of mature trees within the city is a preferred alternative to removal and replanting. Mature trees reduce air and water pollution, provide summer shade and wind breaks, and require less water than establishing new landscaping plants.

•The Public Works director, Urban Forestry Board, City Council, or any individual or group of individuals interested in identifying and preserving heritage trees may nominate any public tree for heritage status. The Urban Forestry Board will review all nominations and may recommend to the City Council that any nominated tree be designated as a heritage tree. They will consider certain criteria in determining whether to recommend any particular tree for heritage designation.

•The City will maintain an inventory of all heritage trees as part of the Urban Forest Management Plan.

 

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