You can only take down a protected tree under
of the following circumstances:
- You get a tree and vegetation removal permit
- You get a tree variance (call and talk to a Planner)
- The tree is scheduled for removal in a Tree Conservation Plan
Trees in a riparian corridor
Riparian areas are those natural areas that occur along waterways. Generally, the land that is 50 feet on each side of a waterway, such as a creek, is a riparian corridor. Trees and native vegetation within the riparian corridor are protected and require approval prior to removal.
You cannot remove trees or
native vegetation in a riparian corridor unless you get one of the following:
- A tree and vegetation removal permit
- A tree variance (call and talk to a Planner)
- The tree is scheduled for removal in a Tree Conservation Plan
If, with approval, you cut down a tree in a riparian corridor, you must leave the roots, trunks, and branches in that corridor unless the City determines that they are potential hazards or impede the flow of the stream
Trees on lots over 20,000 square feet
On lots that are more than 20,000 square feet, you can only cut down up to five trees or 15 percent of the trees on the property, whichever is greater, in a single calendar year prior to development, provided no heritage, significant or riparian trees are removed and no more than 50% of the trees are removed within five consecutive calendar years.
If you want to remove more than that, you must get one of the following:
If you are developing your property, tree removal is reviewed through your site plan review approval or by getting a Tree Conservation Plan approved as part of your residential development proposal.
The City Council designates trees as Heritage Trees in recognition of their location, size, age, botanical interest, or historic or cultural significance after a property owner nominates them. To remove a heritage tree, you must do
both of the following:
- Have a certified arborist determine that the heritage tree is hazardous and
- Have the City Planning Administrator verify the arborist’s determination
If you wish to have your Heritage Tree designation removed, contact the Planning Division to learn about the process.
Trees preserved in Tree Conservation Plans
A Tree Conservation Plan is required when a developer wants to create lots to construct single-family or middle housing homes and that proposal includes taking down trees. The Tree Conservation Plan designates which trees can be removed and which ones must remain. Trees protected by a Tree Conservation Plan must be preserved until a house has been constructed and occupied.
If you want to amend your approved tree plan, call and talk to a Planner about applying for a Tree Conservation Plan Adjustment.
Trees that are part of your required landscaping
Landscaping, including trees and shrubs, are required for all businesses, schools, and apartment complexes. New and old developments are required to have some of their property set aside for landscaping and trees. Additionally, businesses and property owners are required by the Salem Revised Code to maintain all of their required landscaping, including trees, in good condition so as to present a healthy, neat, and orderly appearance. The landscaping for businesses web page will help you learn about the requirements for maintaining, replacing or removing landscaping at your businesses, schools, or apartment complexes.
There are some exceptions to the permit requirements. Call and talk to a Planner to see if your tree removal qualifies for a permit exception.
Step 2: Determine if you meet permit requirements
If you want to take down a protected tree through a tree removal permit, determine if you meet one of the following criteria [SRC 808.030(d)]:
Hazardous tree: The tree’s location or condition is hazardous, and you cannot address the hazard by pruning or treating the tree. As an alternative, the tree has a disease that is likely to spread to other trees despite pruning or treatment.
Repair or replacement of structures: You need to remove a tree to repair, alter, or replace a structure that has existed since June 21, 2000. In addition, you are not enlarging the footprint of that structure, and you are not disturbing more of the riparian corridor than necessary.
Water dependent activities: You need to remove the tree to develop a water-dependent activity, and you are not disturbing more of the riparian corridor than necessary. A water-dependent activity requires access to a waterway for water-borne transportation, recreation, energy production, or source of water.
Restoration activities: You need to remove a tree or native vegetation as part of your work to restore and improve the habitat, hydrology, or water quality of the riparian corridor.
Removal of significant tree in connection with the construction of a development other than single family, two family, three family, four family, or cottage cluster. You need to remove the significant tree for the construction of a development other than single family, two family, three family, four family, or cottage cluster and, without approval of the tree removal permit the proposed development cannot otherwise meet the applicable development standards of the UDC without a variance or adjustment, and there are no reasonable design alternatives that would enable preservation of the tree. Please refer to SRC 808.030(d)(5) for information on determining if there are no reasonable design alternatives.
Step 3: Apply for a tree removal permit
If you meet the criteria for a permit, apply for a tree removal permit by submitting the following to the Planning Division:
Application form for a
tree removal permit.
Site plan: Identify which trees you propose to preserve and remove. Include the tree sizes as well as the location of existing buildings and waterways.
Written statement and/or arborist report: Describe how your proposal to cut down trees meets the tree removal criteria.
Additional items: Submit photos or any other information that might help your application. If you are taking down trees as part of restoration activity in a riparian corridor, you must include additional items such as a delineation of the riparian corridor boundaries. You can find the full list of requirements in
SRC Chapter 808.
Payment for the permit fee.
Step 4: Application review
Planning staff will review your tree removal permit application to determine if the criteria have been met. You will receive the decision on your permit application in the mail. You cannot appeal the decision.