Street Tree Preservation (P500700)

  • Category: Transportation
  • Sub Category: Highway Maintenance
  • Administering Agency: Transportation (AAGE30)
  • Planning Area Countywide
  • Date Last Modified: 4/21/14
  • Required Adequate Public Facility: No
  • Relocation Impact: None
  • Status: Ongoing




This project provides for the preservation of street trees through proactive pruning that will reduce hazardous situations to pedestrians and motorists, help reduce power outages in the County, preserve the health and longevity of trees, decrease property damage incurred from tree debris during storms, correct structural imbalances/defects that cause future hazardous situations and that shorten the lifespan of the trees, improve aesthetics and adjacent property values, improve sight distance for increased safety, and provide clearance from street lights for a safer environment. Proactive pruning will prevent premature deterioration, decrease liability, reduce storm damage potential and costs, improve appearance, and enhance the condition of street trees.

Cost Change

$6 million increase due to addition of FY19-20 to this ongoing level of effort project. Increase in level of effort will address backlog of over 50 neighborhoods currently requesting block pruning.


In FY97, the County eliminated the Suburban District Tax and expanded its street tree maintenance program from the old Suburban District to include the entire County. The street tree population has now increased from an estimated 200,000 to over 400,000 trees. Since that time, only pruning in reaction to emergency/safety concerns has been provided. A street tree has a life expectancy of 60 years and, under current conditions, a majority of street trees will never receive any pruning unless a hazardous situation occurs. Lack of cyclical pruning leads to increased storm damage and cleanup costs, right-of-way obstruction and safety hazards to pedestrians and motorists, premature death and decay from disease, weakening of structural integrity, increased public security risks, and increased liability claims. Healthy street trees that have been pruned on a regular cycle provide a myriad of public benefits including energy savings, a safer environment, aesthetic enhancements that soften the hard edges of buildings and pavements, property value enhancement, mitigation of various airborne pollutants, reduction in the urban heat island effect, and storm water management enhancement. Failure to prune trees in a timely manner can result in trees becoming diseased or damaged and pose a threat to public safety. Over the long term, it is more cost effective if scheduled maintenance is performed. The Forest Preservation Strategy Task Force Report (October, 2000) recommended the development of a green infrastructure CIP project for street tree maintenance. The Forest Preservation Strategy Update (July, 2004) reinforced the need for a CIP project that addresses street trees. (Recommendations in the inter-agency study of tree management practices by the Office of Legislative Oversight (Report #2004-8 - September, 2004) and the Tree Inventory Report and Management Plan by Appraisal, Consulting, Research, and Training Inc. (November, 1995)). Studies have shown that healthy trees provide significant yearround energy savings. Winter windbreaks can lower heating costs by 10 to 20 percent, and summer shade can lower cooling costs by 15 to 35 percent. Every tree that is planted and maintained saves $20 in energy costs per year. In addition, a healthy street tree canopy captures the first 1/2 inch of rainfall reducing the need for storm water management facilities.

Fiscal Note

Includes funding switches from Current Revenue: General to Recordation Tax Premium in FY16-20


Expenditures will continue indefinitely.


Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Utility companies