Today’s tree wardens are continually called upon to strike a balance between preservation of public trees and protection of the public from hazardous tree conditions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been a pioneer in tree protection legislation, including the enactment of the first state legislation requiring a municipal tree warden. As guardians of the municipal landscape, tree wardens decide whether and when to plant new public shade trees, or to permit those that already exist to be cut, trimmed, or removed. This Article describes the important historical role the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played in protecting public trees, the legal basis for tree warden authority, and attendant liability issues. This Article also addresses the need to amend the Public Shade Tree Act to address current issues in arboriculture and forestry.
Julie E. Steiner, Guardians of Municipal Public Trees: Commonwealth of Massachusetts Tree Wardens’ Authority and Accountability, 38 W. NEW ENG. L. REV. 377 (2016).