Tree Warden

What We Do

The care and preservation of all Town trees within the limits of any Town road or grounds.

A tree warden is a person in charge of shade trees on public Town lands. The word "warden" was a common title for natural resource officials in the late 1800s. Being a warden signified a unique legal responsibility to guard public resources against destructive forces that might include persons, insects or diseases.

Since 1899, Massachusetts General Law has mandated that all cities and towns in the Commonwealth have a tree warden who is responsible for trees on public property. The tree warden mandate is still in effect today.

A tree warden may either be elected or appointed by the city or town. In either case, the responsibility is the same, to oversee the care, maintenance or removal of all public shade trees. As both manager and advocate, the tree warden must protect the trees and, where necessary, protect the public from the trees.

The objectives of the tree warden are:

  • Preserve, protect and manage Wilbraham’s urban forest through tree pruning and other preventative maintenance.
  • Enhance public safety by removing dead, dying, hazardous and utility conflicted trees.
  • Improve the quality of Wilbraham’s urban forest areas by implementing a a non-native invasive plant management program.

The scope of the job is broad and includes responsibility for all community trees on streets and Town commons, as well as in parks, schoolyards and Town forests. On a day-to-day basis, a tree warden must plan, organize, control and be accountable for all authorized activities in the public community forest including:

  • Pruning of trees for safety and health.
  • Removal of trees that are dead or dying (from storms, insects, disease or old age).
  • Identify appropriate planting sites.
  • Planting new trees.
  • Working with National Grid on assessment of trees for potential hazards to public safety.
  • Oversight of utility arboriculture operations.
  • Working closely with contracted tree professionals.
  • Conduct public meeting and tree hearings as necessary.

Benefits of Trees:

  • Trees reduce erosion and absorb pollutants before they enter streams.
  • Trees intercept rainfall, which slows stormwater runoff and reduces flooding.
  • Improved air quality; trees absorb air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ozone and sulfer dioxide. Trees also produce oxygen and play an important role in carbon sequestration.
  • Trees cool in the summer by intercepting sunlight and reduce the amount of heat absorbed by streets, parking lots and buildings. Trees also allow sunlight to warm in the winter.
  • Trees also have economic value by reducing energy costs and improving property values.

Frequently Asked Questions:

There is a tree in front of my home that appears to be dead or partially dead. Can you help?

First of all, the Town must attempt to determine who owns the tree. The tree warden will visit the site and, based on available information, render an opinion. If it appears to be on Town property, the tree warden will take appropriate action, at no cost to the homeowner. If not, the homeowner will be advised that it is his/her responsibility.

If the tree warden becomes aware of a tree that is a potential danger to the general public but it is on private property, does the he have any authority?

Yes. If the tree warden feels that the Town’s right-of-way is in danger, he has the authority to arrange for removal of the tree at the owner's expense.

If during a storm a private tree comes down into a Town road, how is it handled?

The Town will remove the portion of the tree that extends onto the Town right-of-way; however, the portion within the homeowner's property is the responsibility of the homeowner.

If there is a dead tree on private property, who is responsible for damages to property if the tree comes down?

Although specific situations are all different, generally the homeowner is responsible.