Trying to Avoid Tree Trouble

If you're planning to eliminate the trees in your yard, you may want to think twice.

It was August 2004 during Florida's record hurricane season. The streets of Tallahassee were littered with tree limbs. Many homes were damaged by fallen pine and oak trees, like the home of Bob and Mary Camp.

Bob Camp says, "I hadn't been in the home but about three weeks, and I couldn't believe it."

Bob Camp eventually had the roof repaired, but says if it happened all over again, "You see that day I would have cut them all down, but I cooled off a little bit. Naw, I wouldn't have cut them down. I probably would have cut the trees close to the house, especially pine trees."

Camp is a builder and knows what he can and can't cut down, but for the average resident, knowing Tallahassee's tree ordinance may be a mystery.

Wade Pitt of Growth Management for the City of Tallahassee says, "Any tree they are thinking about cutting down, they need to contact us. We can tell them whether the tree is protected under the tree ordinance, and we can tell them the steps they need to take."

To simply start cutting without approval could be costly. Just last month the owner of a local motel was fined $140,000 for cutting protected trees.

Pitt says if a tree is severely damaged in a storm it may be okay to cut the tree for safety reasons, but in a place like Tallahassee, a designated tree city, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Tallahassee residents with concerns or questions regarding tree cutting can call the city's Growth Management Department at 850-891-7100.