The essence of tree removal projects is to ensure fire safety; it is crucial to contact the local fire protection agency for a comprehensive defensible space evaluation and permission. The “Living with Fire Guide” for the Lake Tahoe Basin remains the most reliable guide for the management of vegetation and wildfire preparedness on properties in the Tahoe Basin. This guide contains information from the environmental and fire agencies in the Tahoe Region.
When is the best time to seek a Tree Removal Permit?
Follow these guidelines to know there is a need to have a TRPA Tree Removal Permit.
APPLY FOR YOUR TREE REMOVAL PERMIT ONLINE
To apply online, sign and submit a Tree Removal Application Authorization Form ( you can download through this link):
Your local fire protection agency can give permission to remove trees for defensible space. Check the Fire District Map below.
For a residential house not located along the lakeshore, you will need to acquire a permit to cut down trees that are greater than 14 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH). You can click on the link below for instructions on how to determine the exact diameter of a tree.
HOW TO DETERMINE DBH
DBH denotes “diameter at breast height.” Breast height is 4.5 feet off the ground, measured on the upward part of the tree. Measure around the outside of the tree at breast height to know the circumference, and then divide that number by 3.14 to get the diameter. A tree with a diameter of 14 inches has a circumference of 43.9 inches.
If your house is located along the lakeshore, you will need a permit to remove trees that are greater than six inches in between your residence and the Lake or trees greater than fourteen inches DBH not situated between the house and the Lake.
It is important to note that any tree located in a Stream Environment Zone (SEZ) or the backshore area must have a permit before being removed.
Lack of green needles in a conifer is a sign that there is no life in it. It must be certified dead by a licensed forester. A tree that poses a threat to the existence of lives and properties in a home does not require a permit before removal. For the removal of a dead tree that is not close to a house, the professional advice of a TRPA Forester will be sought to determine if there is a need for a permit.
There is a need for a permit to take off branches from the upper 2/3 of the tree unles:
- The branch is situated within ten feet of a chimney outlet, building or deck.
- The branch is dead
- The branches are making contact with utility lines within your property boundary. Always inform your power company before removing branches near utility lines.
TRPA review is needed in case of a manipulation of live vegetation located within the SEZs or the back shore of Lake Tahoe with an inclusion of shrubs and trees.
If permitted as part of the development project, there is no need to secure a separate permit for tree removal.
For the creation of defensible space, you will need to contact your local fire department or district for tree removal permits. The agency is responsible for the issuance of a defensible space evaluation.
HOW TO ACQUIRE A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT
To save more time, it is an excellent idea to submit a tree removal application online.
Just fill in your details in a TRPA Removal Application and send via email or deliver the form in person to the TRPA office. You can pick your application form at the TRPA front counter or reach the office line at 775-588-4547.
You are required to pay a sum of $53 nonrefundable filing charge when you submit your application form. Once your application is received, a TRPA forester will check your house and assess the trees and offer a permit for any tree or trees with marks.