Which Species Are Protected Trees in Texas?

With Texas real estate demand rising, tree removal is bound to be on the to-do list of many Texas residents.

What many of these new residents don’t know is that tree preservation in Texas is an ongoing effort. Protected trees are everywhere, so it is imperative to know the steps involved in the removal process.

You’re in the right place to find them! Keep reading to learn about the species and processes involved with protected trees in Texas.

Protected Tree Sizing

Protected Trees are classified by the Texas state law as “a tree having a diameter of eight inches or more”, but sometimes a tree is not easily measurable.

When measuring a tree’s diameter, you’ll want to take a measurement of the circumference of the trunk from about 4.5 feet above the ground. Then, divide your circumference by pi (3.154) to get your diameter.

If the tree in question splits into multiple trunks below 4.5 feet, then you’ll want to take the diameter from the largest trunk. Add that number to half the diameter of each of the other trunks to find your total diameter.

The only trees that are not considered protected trees, regardless of size, are below:

  • Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven).
  • Alibizzia julibrissen (Mimosa).
  • Maclura pomifera (female only) Bois d’Arc.
  • Melia azeoarach (Chinaberry).
  • Salix nigra (Black Willow).
  • Celtis occidentalis laevigata (Hackberry)

Protected trees are not the only trees that are safe from removal, though. We’ll talk about Heritage trees and their rules next.

Heritage Trees

Heritage trees (also commonly known as Monarch trees) are considered irreplaceable based on their age, rarity, size, botanical and historical value. These are similar to protected trees, but they are generally subject to much stricter ruling. 

Heritage trees must measure over 24 inches in diameter. You can use the same formula listed above to measure the diameter if you have multiple branches.

Only the specific types of trees listed below are heritage trees:

  • Texas Ash
  • Bald Cypress
  • American Elm
  • Texas Madrone
  • Bigtooth Maple
  • All Oaks
  • Pecan
  • Arizona Walnut
  • Eastern Black Walnut

If your tree in question does not match any of the species above, you may be able to obtain a tree removal permit. Let’s talk about those next.

Tree Removal

All tree removals and tree replacements require a tree removal permit application. To get an application, you’ll want to reach out to a tree removal expert. If you need help finding one, check out our blog post on everything to consider when choosing a tree removal company.

The tree removal company will survey the lot and make sure the tree fits one of the following criteria:

  1. Prevents reasonable access to the property;
  2. Prevents reasonable use of the property;
  3. Is an imminent hazard to life or property (and it can’t be mitigated without total removal);
  4. Is dead;
  5. Is diseased and can’t be cured;
  6. Is diseased and contagious to other trees and could endanger their health;
  7. If on public property/street/easement, prohibits a necessary street/alley/utility line/drainage facility.

Once the city approves the permit, the tree removal expert can proceed with the removal.

Trees are Natural History

It is incredibly important to understand your city’s laws before making any removal decisions. Protected trees are a way to preserve history, much like a statue, so they should be treated with the same respect.

Looking for a tree removal service in Katy, Texas? Check out our website to get a free quote!

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