Established June 24, 1762
Charlotte Tree Warden
Trees and shrubs along the shore of Lake Champlain at Thompson's Point
Trees and shrubs along the shore of Lake Champlain at Thompson's Point

The Town of Charlotte has a Tree Warden who is appointed annually by the Selectboard. His or her duties are only on Town land, such as Thompson’s Point, the Town Green, Mutton Hill or Whalley Woods, and on the Town’s Road Right-of-Ways. As of October 25, 2016 this position has been held by Mark Dillenback (425-2106). Sue Smith (425-2732) serves as Deputy Tree Warden.

At Thompson’s Point, the Tree Warden has been asked by the Selectboard to give or refuse permission to property leasers for removal or pruning of trees in The Shoreland Seasonal Home Management District which surrounds the camps, and to advise the Zoning Administrator on cutting in the Shoreline District (100 feet from shoreline).

The vegetation in the Right-of-Way along Town roads is under the control of the Town. The R-O-W varies in width from 25 to 33 to 66 feet from road centerline, depending on which road it is. Most are 25  feet.

The Vermont statutes on the duties of a Tree Warden, Sections 2502 , 2506, 2508 and 2510 state:

  Shade and ornamental trees within the limits of the public ways and places shall be under the control of the tree warden;
  A tree warden shall enforce all laws relating to public shade trees--;
  Unless otherwise provided, a public shade tree shall not be cut or removed, in whole or in part, except by a tree warden or his deputy or by a person having written permission of a tree warden;
  Whoever shall, willfully, mar or deface a public shade tree without written permission of a tree warden or legislative body of the municipality shall be fined not more than $50-- and  any person who willfully critically injures or cuts down a public  shade tree without written---(same as above)--, shall be fined not more than $500 for each tree so

Volunteers clearing near an oak in the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge.
Volunteers clearing near an oak in the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge.
injured or cut, for the use of the municipality.

Now, the law does not define what is a "shade tree". According to the Vermont Institute for Government "The Law of Trees", the practice is to "assume that any tree or shrub within the public right-of-way or in a public place is protected by the law." It goes on to say "Don't try to be sly with the definitions to get around the law." This means in essence that the utility companies and the Road Commissioner or any other individual or body who wish to cut or severely prune trees in the R-O-W, need to get permission from the Tree Warden. Special care is required in State or Town designated Scenic Roads (map in Town Hall).

It should be pointed out that the large shade trees that we value so much start out as small trees. We have currently operating in Charlotte a Roadside Tree Restoration Project that involves planting of small trees, and saplings, at considerable effort and expense. An intensive project from 2006 -2010 has resulted in 411 trees being planted, Volunteer citizen Tree Keepers are monitoring these trees.

The Tree Warden maintains a roster of the largest diameter native trees in Charlotte, and trees of unusual significance. It has also the Abenaki names of the trees. This updated list is at the bottom of this web page and is posted and on the Town Hall bulletin board. Send in any new or suspected champions anytime. (Measure the circumference at 4 1/2 feet above average ground level.) There is also a list available of the roadside tree plantings that have been specially dedicated to individuals or groups.

The Tree Warden views that the most important part of his job is to promote appreciation and understanding about trees and their function in the environment, and to this end writes articles in the local Charlotte News, and engages in an annual Arbor Day celebration. The Town officially designates Arbor Day, as part of a Statewide event, and it is usually the first Friday in May.

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