The Coast News Group

Encinitas wins award for urban forest ordinance

ENCINITAS — Encinitas recently received an award for its newly adopted ordinance to protect publicly planted and venerable heritage trees.

The SOS — Save our Shade Award was given to Encinitas by the California Urban Forests Council, an organization that was established to support sustainable urban and community forests in California.

Encinitas resident Carol Wolf nominated the city for the award for its recent enactment of a new ordinance and creation of the city’s comprehensive Urban Forest Management Program.

“I’m really proud of Encinitas and our city’s forward momentum in maintaining and protecting our urban forest,” said Wolf in response to her nomination’s success. “I’m glad the city will be recognized for it.”

The municipal tree ordinance gives added protection to so-called “heritage trees” — trees that have certain historical or cultural significance or are the oldest or largest of their species. Under the new regulations, these trees can only be removed with the approval of the planning commission.

It also requires that the city arborist, a position for which the city is currently recruiting, OKs the removal of any trees planted on public right of way.

The ordinance also establishes an urban forest advisory committee, which according to the regulations will have no less than five members with relevant experience that will advise the City Council on tree plans, heritage tree applications, the city’s approved tree species master list, tree removals and public outreach plans.

The “topping” of city trees — the removal of large branches and trunks from the tops of trees — would be prohibited for city trees under the new ordinance, and tree pruning would have to conform to the standards set out in the city’s administrative manual. The city arborist would have to approve the pruning of any heritage trees.

Wolf closed her nomination with a commendation for the city of Encinitas for working to find alternative, collaborative solutions for the urban canopy concerns and creating a position to advocate for trees.

Encinitas is only one of three organizations to be honored with the SOS award this year. Eighteen awards will be given across eight categories at an award ceremony on Aug. 23 in San Rafael.