Can I cut down a tree in North Lake Tahoe?
One of the frequent questions I get from my Tahoe Buyers is “Can I cut down a tree in North Lake Tahoe?”
Many of my North Lake Tahoe Buyers have been coming up to the Lake Tahoe – Truckee area for years, and they have heard stories of how hard it is to cut down trees, along with how difficult the process is to get approval.
- Can you cut down trees in North Lake Tahoe?
- Do you need a permit?
- How hard is it to get a permit, or approval?
- The answer – it depends!
If the home is located in the Lake Tahoe Basin, then the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) rules apply when it comes to removing trees. When in doubt, before cutting down any tree, call the TRPA for guidance, or talk to a local tree removal company for more help before taking any action.
- Non-Lakeshore Homes: If the house is not along the lakeshore, a permit is required if the tree is greater than 14 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH).
What is breast height, or DBH? Breast height is 4.5 feet off the ground measured on the uphill side of the tree. Measure around the outside of the tree (cloth tape measure – I’d suggest a tape measure that you would use on a person as it is more flexible and easier to use). Take that reading, which is the circumference of the tree and divide that number by 3.14 and that will give you the diameter of the tree.
A tree with a diameter of 14 inches has a circumference of 43.9 inches.
- Lakeshore House: If the house is along the lakeshore, a permit is required to remove trees greater than 6 inches in diameter at breast height between the house and the lake.
- For trees that are not between the house and the lake, it is a 14 inches in diameter at breast height, or less, no permit is required.
- SEZ: Trees of any size that were planted or retained as part of a permit, or that are in a Stream Environmental Zone (SEZ), or backshore area, require a permit for removal. (The backshore area is the sensitive area adjacent to the lake)
What if the tree is dead? A conifer is considered to be dead when it doesn’t have any green needles. A deciduous tree must be determined to be dead by a qualified forester.
Removal of a dead tree that could fall on a house does not require a permit.
To remove a dead tree that isn’t near a house and is greater than 14 inches in diameter at breast height you will need to have a TRPA forester determine if a permit is required.
Rules and procedures can change over in time, and this was the information available when this post was written, June 21, 2017. When in doubt talk to the TRPA before cutting down any tree.
- How to get a tree removal permit? Fill out a TRPA Tree Removal Application and mail or deliver it, with the application fee to the TRPA office.
- Check out TRPA.org, TRPA front desk, or call 775-588-4547 for more information or help.
Tree Removal for Defensible Space – Thinning trees in close proximity to structures can enhance the fire safety of your home. Your local fire district is able to issue tree removal permits for defensible space permits. For more information on defensible space see www.TahoeFireSafe.com
In the North Lake Tahoe area:
- Tahoe Fire Protection District (CA) 530-546-2212
- Meeks Bay Fire Protection District 530-525-7558
This is not a complete list of rules, but some helpful information on the tree removal process in the Lake Tahoe Basin. When it doubt talk to someone at the TRPA!
For more information on tree removal in the Lake Tahoe Basin, check out the TRPA: A property Owner’s Guide to Tree Removal in the Lake Tahoe Basin flyer.
The Lake Tahoe forest is beautiful, but sometimes trees may need to be cut down. Depending on the size and location, a permit may, or may not be required. There is a lot to learn about our area, so let me know how I can help you!
Thinking about making Lake Tahoe, California your second home? Check out the homes that are for sale here:
Want to see what condos are for sale in Lake Tahoe? Here are the current listings:
- Tahoe City Homes for Sale
- Tahoe City Condos for Sale
- Tahoe City Lakefront Homes for Sale
- Lake Tahoe Lakefront Homes for Sale
- North Shore Lake Tahoe Homes for Sale
- West Shore Lake Tahoe Homes for Sale
For all of your Tahoe real estate needs –
All information is deemed reliable, but is subject to change, and/or correction without notice.
Can I cut down a tree in North Lake Tahoe?