Issue Brief: Should you need a permit to plant a tree?

November 5, 2014 -  By

Headshot: Sabeena Hickman

If the proposed revision to the definition of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) were enacted, landscape professionals and homeowners might need to get a permit to plant trees or shrubs on their own property or on a client’s property.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed revision to the WOTUS, up for public comment until Nov. 14, describes which waters can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. EPA says it doesn’t want to add additional restrictions; it merely wants to clarify which sources of water in the U.S. are under federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

However, many in the landscape industry and other sectors read the rule as controlling what people can build or plant in or around streams, ponds, ditches and stormwater runoff areas. They see it as an example of extreme government overreach.

The Professional Landcare Network, with other groups, has been lobbying to stop the rule’s implementation. In September, in a promising turn of events, the U.S. House of Representatives passed with bipartisan support WOTUS Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078). Introduced by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), the act would prohibit the implementation of the proposed revision to the definition of WOTUS. Unfortunately, the House act is expected to face resistance in the Senate.

Landscape professionals should write their senators or talk to them in their local district offices. Legislators listen to business owners. Make your voice heard to stop this proposal.

About the Author:

Hickman is CEO of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

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