CASPER, Wyo. — Casper’s tree service industry now has a new set of rules.
The “Tree and Shrubs” ordinance was tabled at an October meeting to allow the city council to discuss it further.
They passed the new rules on third reading on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
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Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson and Councilmen Ken Bates and Steve Cathey voted against the ordinance.
An amendment to the ordinance was added prior to the final vote.
The initial proposal would have required people obtain permits in order to prune or trim trees lining Casper’s streets.
The amendment allows property owners, their immediate family or licensed tree contractors employed by property owners to trim or prune such trees or shrubs without obtaining a permit.
An accident involving a man who died after an uncertified arborist cut a tree limb in his back yard and landed on the man has pushed much of council’s discussion.
Councilman Ray Pacheco offered his condolences for the family of the man. He said he recognized the new rules wouldn’t solve every problem but that they could help.
Some council members have seen that as pointing to the need for protections they say the proposed rules would put in place.
Others have said that council was being reactionary in rushing into new rules based off of one incident.
The main elements of the ordinance require arborists to obtain additional certifications and restrict the rules around cutting trees or tree limbs 12 feet in the air or above.
While many of the new rules are safety related, other changes include the banning of some non-native plant species like Russian olive trees.
Nothing in the new rules will prevent property owners from trimming or cutting plants or trees on their own properties.
The city says that most tree service providers they’ve heard from support the new rules.
Here is a rundown of the changes included in the ordinance:
- When seeking a commercial arborist license, people will have to first successfully complete a competency test through the Wyoming Extension Office.
- Within three years of obtaining their license, commercial arborists will need to get certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.
- Commercial liability insurance coverage of at least $1 million per occurrence will be required, up from the $100,000 minimum previously mandated.
- Aggregate insurance coverage is raised from the previous $300,000 minimum requirement to $2 million.
- Workers’ Compensation coverage will have to be provided.
- It is now a misdemeanor for conducting tree trimming services without a permit.
- A fine of up to $750 could be administered for violating those rules.
- ISA Certified Arborists will be required to be on scene anytime cutting or trimming operations are taking place above 12 feet.
- Trees or shrubs on any public property cannot be planted or removed without written permission from the Parks and Recreation Department. That was true under the current code, but the new ordinance makes it a misdemeanor with fines up to $750 for violating these rules.
- Trees are prohibited from planting within four feet of curbs or sidewalks, up from the two foot distance required previously.
- A requirement that trees be planted a certain distance apart was removed.
- State of Wyoming designated weeds such as Russian olives and tamarisk are prohibited.
- The rules provide exceptions for planting “cotton-bearing cottonwood trees” within 40 feet of the river. They are prohibited in other public places.
- Willows are now allowed on public spaces up to a maximum of ten feet in height. They are allowed at any height along the river.
Full details of the changes are available in the council’s work packet.
If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:
Mayor Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 577-6042
Vice Mayor Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 337-5057
- (307) 277-7377
Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 473-1247
Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 262-8237
Councilman Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 259-1276
Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 472-1837
Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):
- (307) 266-4188
Councilwoman Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 359-3673
Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):
- (307) 258-1226
Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601
If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.