Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Bellingham?
- 2 Does the City of Bellingham Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
- 3 Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal in Bellingham?
- 4 How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Bellingham?
- 5 Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Bellingham?
- 6 What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Bellingham?
- 7 How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Bellingham?
What Are the Most Common Tree Issues in Bellingham?
Located just south of Canada, Bellingham is located on the edge of Washington’s northernmost coast and is a port for ferries traveling to Alaska. Bellingham has a growing urban forest and is also home to some of the most historic and exceptional trees in Washington. While the city is extremely committed to maintaining Bellingham’s urban forest and encouraging tree growth, there are some problems trees face in the area.
- Insects and pests: Trees in Bellingham can be attacked by a variety of pests which include the Asian longhorned beetle, ash flower gall, bronze birch borer, Eastern tent caterpillar, fall webworm, yellownecked caterpillar and, the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer in particular is responsible for thousands of ash trees dying every year.
- Beetles: Drought and bark beetles cause damage to Douglas fir trees found in Bellingham and across Washington State. There have been more infestations of these beetles recently due to several hot and dry summers that have led to drought-like conditions. Bark beetles are particularly sneaky, breeding on dead or downed tree branches and then preying on areas where the bark has thinned due to root rot, fire, or drought.
- Critical Areas: These areas are designated by Whatcom County and include critical areas as well as their buffers. These areas include the Lake Whatcom watershed, the Lake Samish watershed, the Lake Padden watershed, and any areas within 200 feet of a regulated shoreline. You are also required to have a permit to remove any trees that are characterized as significant. These include any evergreen tree that is 12 inches or greater in diameter or deciduous trees that are eight inches or greater in diameter.
Does the City of Bellingham Provide Any Assistance in Tree Removal Problems?
The City of Bellingham assists with trees that are in a public right-of-way, but property owners are responsible for trees on their property, including those that are adjacent to a street. Trees that fall in the street, across power lines, or on other critical infrastructure are usually removed by either the city of Bellingham or Puget Sound Energy. Additionally, most tree removals, even on private property, require a permit from the city. In some areas, a permit from Whatcom County is required. Trees that are in designated critical areas such as the Lake Whatcom watershed, the Lake Samish watershed, the Lake Padden watershed, and any areas within 200 feet of a regulated shoreline require a permit from the county before any removal. The only exception is in the case of immediate danger.
Who Is Responsible for Fallen Tree Removal in Bellingham?
It can be complicated, even aggravating, to determine who is responsible for removing a fallen tree. Are you responsible for your trees no matter where they fall? Are renters responsible for fallen trees or are their landlords? Is your neighbor responsible for the maple tree that knocked down the fence and fell across your driveway? Let’s take a look.
If you’re a homeowner?
If a tree falls in your yard, most of the time you will be responsible for removing it. Trees that fall into the street are sometimes the city’s responsibility, but you need to contact them. Also, if the tree that fell is diseased or is already dead before falling, and you knew about it, you are responsible. Most of the time, your homeowners insurance will not pay for removal or any damage if you were negligent. Trees that fall into your neighbor’s yard are not your responsibility unless it was your fault. Either way, if you offer to help your neighbors, it will surely be appreciated.
If you’re a renter?
Unless your lease states that it would be your responsibility to remove any fallen trees, it is generally not, if you are renting your house. Your renters’ insurance will usually help with costs related to damage to personal property that is caused by a fallen tree. You do need to call your landlord right away if a tree falls on your house or elsewhere on the property. Additionally, if you caused the tree to fall, it is not unreasonable for your landlord to charge you for the damages and/or removal of the tree. Your renter’s insurance would likely not pay for any damages in this situation.
If you’re a landlord?
Similar to a homeowner, it is the landlord’s responsibility to remove any fallen trees. You should arrange removal and assessment of any damage with your renter as soon as possible. If your renter causes the tree to fall and you can prove this, it is reasonable for you to require the renter to pay for damages and tree removal.
If you’re a neighbor?
Provided your neighbor did not know there were problems with the tree that fell or it fell during a storm, it is your responsibility to have the tree removed. Oftentimes, your homeowners insurance will cover the damage and costs of removal. It is a good idea to proactively discuss any concerns you have about trees on your neighbor’s property before they fall, but just know that unless there is something inherently wrong with the tree, they are not required to remove it.
How Does the Soil Affect Trees in Bellingham?
The soil in Bellingham is mostly composed of silt and clay. It also has some loamy soil, with rock fragments and pebbles. The soil in Bellingham and Whatcom County contains volcanic ash and loess, which is silt-type sediment formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust. It is moderately well-drained and acidic, with deeper layers being neutral and mildly alkaline. This combination provides nutrients and promotes growth, but it needs to be maintained to ensure the continued growth and support of your tree.
Does Weather Affect Tree Health in Bellingham?
The weather in Bellingham is generally not as temperamental as weather farther south in the Puget Sound area. Bellingham sees around 39 inches annually, which is just below the national average of 38 inches. The temperature is also fairly moderate, with summer temperatures in the mid-70s and winter temperatures in the mid-30s. There are still storms, generally in the spring or fall, which can cause heavy rain and wind. Recently, there have been more severe summers (in terms of temperature and lack of precipitation) that have had a negative impact on tree health. Monitoring trees for signs of disease or pests is even more important during these abnormal summers.
What if Dead Trees Are Near Power Lines in Bellingham?
Trees that fall on or near power lines, whether dead or not, are very dangerous, and you should never attempt to remove them on your own. Downed trees or branches on power lines can be common during fall and spring storms. Puget Sound Energy is responsible for monitoring and maintaining trees near power lines. PSE has a schedule of preventative trimming on their website, so you know when they will be trimming trees in your neighborhood. If they have to remove a dangerous tree on your property, they will work with other agencies to try and replace it. Unless the tree has to be removed on an emergency basis, they will contact you before they remove trees on your property and will leave a note if they are unable to contact you.
How Much Does Tree Removal Usually Cost in Bellingham?
Every tree removal is different, which is why there aren’t set prices. In Bellingham, on average, it can cost between $320 and $1,410 to remove a tree. Depending on why a tree is being removed, your homeowners insurance, may cover some or all of the cost, minus a deductible. Because the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County both require a permit for the majority of tree removals, this can also increase the cost of removal. Our arborists know exactly which permits are needed and how to easily obtain them.
Trees that are bigger in height and width require more time and resources to remove. Because of this, it gets more expensive the bigger the tree gets. In most cases, our tree trimmers employ a top-down method of cutting which involves, as you might guess based on the name, cutting sections of the tree starting at the top. While this is absolutely the safest method for tall trees, it also requires multiple people and is not a quick process. On average, a 20-foot tree will cost between $220 and $400 to remove, while an 80-foot tree will cost between $880 and $1,600 or more to remove.
If you live in a particularly crowded neighborhood or even a neighborhood that has a higher cost of living, the cost to remove a tree will be higher. Additionally, if the tree is near power lines or a crane has to be used to remove the tree, the cost will also increase. Trees that are in designated critical areas are also more expensive due to their protected status and location.
Certain areas in Whatcom County require permits from the county before tree removal. The City of Bellingham also requires a permit for most tree removal, so your costs will be even higher. A permit from Whatcom County costs $40 per tree. The City of Bellingham does not list prices for these permits, but the cost is generally in line with what Whatcom County charges. This does not include any fees that the county or city add on to actually process the permit, such as a 3% technology fee.