Urban Forestry Frequently Asked Questions
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URBAN FORESTRY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DO I CHECK OWNERSHIP OF A TREE ALONG A STREET OR OTHER PUBLIC SPACE?
A resident can call the Mayor's Action Center (317-327-4622) or visit the RequestIndy website and request a tree inspection. A City arborist will determine whether or not the tree in question belongs to the city. 

There are some politically separate localities in Marion County (such as Lawrence, Beech Grove and Speedway) that are not within the jurisdiction of the City of Indianapolis for tree maintenance.
 
WILL THE CITY REMOVE OR PRUNE A TREE NEAR MY PROPERTY? 
Any tree located in City Right-of-Way or on City-owned property determined by a city tree inspector to require safety-related maintenance will be scheduled for that maintenance. 

Any tree located on private property determined by a city tree inspector to require maintenance for public safety must be maintained appropriately by the property owner. The Department of Code Enforcement may legally compel a private property owner to perform safety-related maintenance on a privately-owned tree if the issue causes an unsafe condition for the users of the Right-of-Way. The prioritization of ash tree maintenance will be managed in a similar manner to any other type of public tree. 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I CALL THE MAC TO REPORT A TREE/BRUSH ISSUE? 
First, a service request is generated from the Mayor's Action Center (317-327-4622) or from the RequestIndy website. Next, the issue is prioritized and an inspection is scheduled by a city arborist based on the assigned priority. When the inspection is complete, the arborist will leave a door hanger at the adjacent property indicating one or more of the following recommendations: tree removal (tree will be marked with orange paint); selective pruning; brush clearance; no work, requested work not warranted; no work, private property issue.

WHEN WILL MY REQUEST BE INSPECTED? 
Forestry inspections are prioritized and appropriately scheduled based on the potential risk to public safety. Issues with higher potential risk will be inspected first. Once scheduled, all inspections of similar priority level will be performed in chronological order.

HOW DOES THE FORESTRY DEPARTMENT PRIORITIZE TREE AND ROADSIDE BRUSH WORK? 
All issues will be prioritized based on the assessed level of risk to a person’s physical well-being, and in consideration of the quantity of users of public spaces and Rights-of-Way that would potentially be exposed to that risk.  The City of Indianapolis has adopted the ANSI A-300 Tree Risk Assessment standard and is performing inspections and scheduling work based on the ANSI methodology.  For issues assigned identical priority levels, action will be taken in the chronological order that each issue was reported or discovered.  The highest priority work will always be scheduled first, and the estimated timeframe for which any one issue is resolved will depend on available funding, resources, and the amount of other higher priority issues still waiting to be resolved.

I AM EXPERIENCING ROOT DAMAGE TO MY SEPTIC SYSTEM/SEWER LATERAL. CAN YOU REMOVE THE TREE CAUSING THE DAMAGE? 
When openings such as cracks occur in sewer systems and septic systems, roots are simply taking advantage of the favorable conditions (air, water, nutrients) created by the pre-existing damage.  Pipes that are properly repaired or replaced rarely have issues from invading roots because the roots no longer have access to the air, water, and nutrients within the pipe, and often the tree can remain for many more years with no additional problems.
 
THE TREE ROOTS ARE DAMAGING THE PUBLIC SIDEWALK NEAR MY PROPERTY. CAN YOU REMOVE THE TREE CAUSING THE DAMAGE? 
While tree roots certainly are capable of causing pavement heaving, removing the tree will not correct the current sidewalk problem. A request for sidewalk repair should be made to the Mayor's Action Center (317-327-4622) or via the RequestIndy website, and DPW personnel will subsequently schedule an inspection of the pavement. 

If DPW personnel determine the repair cannot be made without adversely affecting the tree, they will notify Forestry that an assessment and recommendation are needed. Often, the sidewalk can be repaired with minimal effect to the tree’s health and safety, and allows the benefits of the tree to be retained.

I RECEIVED A NOTICE FROM THE CITY THAT THE TREE NEAR MY PROPERTY HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR WORK: 
>>When will this work be done? 
All Forestry work orders, including EAB-related ash tree removals, are prioritized and scheduled with regard to the potential risk to public safety.  Appointments and same-day notifications for daily work schedules are not possible due to several unpredictable factors, including inclement weather, equipment breakdowns, or other urgent issues which may arise unexpectedly.
>>Who will perform this work? 
Forestry maintenance is performed by a combination of contracted tree service providers and the City’s internal labor force.  Any questions or concerns about the performance of forestry work in public spaces should be directed to DPW at 317-327-4669.
>>Will I be charged for this service?
There is no charge for services provided by DPW Forestry.  Tree work scheduled for safety issues in the Right-of-Way will be coordinated by City personnel at the City’s expense, with highest priority level work completed first. 
>>How can I get the work completed in a shorter timeframe? 
If a private property owner wishes to expedite the work scheduled by the City for a tree in the Right-of-Way adjacent to their property, or have other non-safety-related services performed, such as planting, chemical treatment, or pruning, then they may choose to hire a qualified tree maintenance service provider to perform the work.  The service provider must obtain a Flora permit for that particular location prior to performing any work on trees within the public spaces at the location. All such expedited or non-safety-related work must be funded privately. The service provider must coordinate all work necessary to accomplish the permitted activity.  DPW will not reimburse an adjacent property owner for any privately-funded forestry work performed within the Right-of-Way or other public spaces.
>>Will I receive further notification before the work is done to move my car or other belongings?
Not necessarily. Once the initial notification has been given via the door hanger, no further notification will occur if the tree crew is able to easily access the tree and complete the scheduled work without obstruction or risk of property damage.  For situations where the tree crew may require action from adjacent residents to complete the scheduled work, they will notify residents accordingly.  Appointments and same-day notifications for daily work schedules are not possible due to several unpredictable factors, including inclement weather, equipment breakdowns, or other urgent issues which may arise unexpectedly.
>>Is there anything I need to do to prepare for the work?
Not unless requested by the tree crew’s foreman. It is recommended to remove vehicles and other valuable objects and possessions away from the work area under the tree’s canopy. Due to safety concerns, no one other than the authorized DPW personnel or commercial tree contractors may enter the work zone during the entire tree removal procedure. It is recommended for citizens to remain in their homes or businesses until all tree removal operations are complete at that location. Most tree removals can be completed in a matter of hours.  Any questions or concerns about the performance of forestry work in public spaces should be directed to DPW at 327-4669.
>>May I have the wood? 
All wood and debris from tree work is the responsibility of the contractor to dispose. The City cannot require the contractor to leave any wood. Any request for wood must be negotiated with the contractor at time of service. The City accepts no liability for claims involving debris left behind by the contractor or DPW personnel at the request of the adjacent property owner. Neither the contractor nor DPW personnel will relocate debris onto private property. 
>>Will the stump be removed?
No, stump removal is not currently a service offered by the City due to limited resources. The adjacent property owner may pay a commercial contractor to have the stump ground out at a later date after obtain¬ing authorization via a Flora permit. 

WILL THE CITY APPLY PESTICIDE TO PUBLIC TREES NEAR MY PROPERTY? 
No. Due to limited resources, the City does not currently provide any chemical treatment of trees, including ash trees, along streets and right of ways. A small number of ash trees in city parks will be treated with pesticide in hopes of postponing their decline.
 
CAN A PROPERTY OWNER APPLY PESTICIDE TO A CITY TREE AT THEIR COST? 
Yes. If a property owner wants to try to preserve a particular tree in a city Right-of-Way or park they will need to apply for a Flora permit. Any pesticide must be applied per the label, and some pesticides may only be legally applied by a licensed pesticide applicator. 

I AM TREATING AN ASH TREE WITHIN A CITY RIGHT-OF-WAY OR PARK FOR EMERALD ASH BORER. HOW DO I ENSURE IT IS NOT REMOVED BY THE CITY? 
If a property owner has a Flora permit to treat an ash tree for Emerald Ash Borer in City Right-of-Way near their property, then their address is entered into a database indicating the ash is being treated. The City consults this database before scheduling any ash tree removals. In addition, the City notifies property owners via door hanger or letter of pending removals for activities adjacent to their addresses.  Notification will include pertinent contact information should a property owner have questions or concerns. 
All public ash trees, including those being treated with protective chemicals, will be periodically assessed by a city arborist for health and structure. Any trees determined to be outside the threshold of tolerable risk by the city arborist will be scheduled for removal and the adjacent property owner notified. 

WILL THE CITY REPLACE A CITY TREE NEAR MY PROPERTY IF THEY REMOVE A TREE? 
The City does not typically replace individual trees in front of a residence. However the City, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Indianapolis Power and Light, and many other partners and neighborhood organizations do work together every year in planting thousands of trees throughout Indianapolis in parks and neighborhoods. In the future, neighborhoods and parks targeted for tree plantings will include those adversely impacted by the emerald ash borer. Citizens may contact these organizations if they would like to request that a planting project be considered at their location.

CAN A RESIDENT PLANT ANOTHER TREE ON CITY PROPERTY? 
Yes. A citizen can apply for a Flora permit if they would like to purchase an acceptable tree, install the tree and maintain it for a period of two years. The City will not reimburse private property owners for tree planting. 
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful also has a street tree replacement program. For more information please visit their website at www.kibi.org or call 317-327-7555.

CAN I PLANT A MEMORIAL TREE ON CITY PROPERTY?

Trees can be great symbols of the interconnection of mankind and nature and may seem permanent and invincible, but every tree is still a dynamic living organism subject to the pressures of the urban environment.  The City cannot provide any special additional resources for any one particular tree, and the tree will still be subject to vandalism, pest pressures, and possible removal due to infrastructure or park development projects.  It is for these reasons that the City of Indianapolis does not recommend planting trees as memorials within public spaces.  However, a tree may be planted by a citizen for any reason, provided that the citizen has obtained a Flora permit, and understands the risks of attaching any special significance to a tree planted in a public space.  Memorial markers, plaques, or other such signage cannot be maintained by City staff and will not be permitted.

Memorial plantings with associated signage are best designated to private property where they will have more focused individual care and protection from the risks that trees must face in public spaces.

WHAT KIND OF TREE SHOULD BE PLANTED TO REPLACE A TREE THAT WAS REMOVED? 

Whether someone is planting a tree on their property or proposing to plant a tree in city right of way or a park, several considerations must be made when deciding what kind of tree to plant. The goal is to get the “right tree in the right place, planted the right way”, and for that tree to provide the most overall benefits possible with the least amount of maintenance required. 

If the tree in question was a large shade tree located in a place well-suited for a large trees, then another large shade tree would be the most appropriate replacement. If a large shade tree was growing in a place poorly-suited for a large tree, then only a tree suited for the given space should be considered. Planting under a utility line or very close to a building nearly always results in a conflict and creates a need for years of avoidable maintenance. 

The City of Indianapolis keeps a current list of recommended trees for planting in Indianapolis, by size, on the Urban Forestry Website. A list of prohibited species for use in City Rights-of-Way and parks is also listed. The prohibited list includes species that typically create more management problems than benefits provided to the overall urban forest. 

WHY SHOULD A CITIZEN PLANT ANOTHER TREE ON CITY PROPERTY? 
Our collective urban forest—and especially large shade trees—provide many benefits to homeowners as well as the general public. All trees help improve air quality, reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, reduce storm water runoff, and provide aesthetic benefits to property values. Strategically planted trees can also optimize shade which reduces cooling costs for homes and buildings. According to the USDA a large tree can provide $58.00 to $73.00 in overall benefits per year. Medium-sized trees provide $27.00 to $35.00 in benefits and small trees provide $15.00 to $21.00 in benefits. 

It is important to note that many of the public trees that we enjoy today only exist because an individual citizen decided years ago to make an investment in the urban forest by planting, watering, and protecting a young tree in a place that held significance to them.