You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Drought-killed trees can become liability for area landowners
A tree that falls in a lonely forest may not make a sound, but what about the tree that falls on your neighbor’s house?
The sound it makes? Cha-ching.
Texas Forest Service is encouraging homeowners and landowners to remove fire- and drought-killed trees that are within falling distance of neighboring homes, roads, and pathways. Failure to do so, agency officials say, could make you liable for damages.
“Be aware that your tree could fall onto someone else’s property,” Texas Forest Service Central Texas Operations department head Jim Rooni said. “The rules vary from place to place, but generally the owner of the tree is responsible. Bottom line: You could be liable.”
Rooni said foresters received an influx of calls following the deadly wildfire that ripped through Bastrop last September, destroying roughly 1.5 million trees. But the liability issue isn’t limited to trees killed by fire, he said.
Texas is emerging from one of the most devastating droughts and one of the most unprecedented wildfire seasons in state history. Though there is no official count for the total number of trees killed by wildfire, foresters and analysts have estimated that as many as 500 million trees in rural forested areas and another 5.6 million trees in populated urban areas were killed as a result of the 2011 drought.
The sheer volume of dead trees -- especially those standing in populated areas -- poses a significant hazard, Rooni said.
“Standing, dead trees are dangerous and unpredictable,” Rooni said. “If they fall, they can cause serious damage -- and even death.”
If your tree still has yet to sprout green leaves, forestry experts say it’s most likely dead. If you’re not sure, read our Texas Forest Service tree assessment guide, check out our Facebook photo album to see examples of trees in varying states, or contact a certified arborist.
If you have questions regarding liability on public land or rights of way, contact your local county sheriff’s department or county commissioner’s office. For questions regarding liability issues on private property, seek counsel from a reputable legal source.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
Crow is 15th in the nation (July 22, 2015)
Have you seen a Texas horned lizard? (July 22, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 22, 2015)
Landscaping picks (July 22, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 22, 2015)
Offices issue receipts (July 22, 2015)
Recent rains — fewer grasshoppers! (July 22, 2015)
Stallman announces departure in January (July 22, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 22, 2015)
Benefits of the Chinese pistache (July 15, 2015)
Cattle market outlook, trends short course (July 15, 2015)
Conservation assistance online for landowners, users (July 15, 2015)
Crouch Memorial Bull Riding is July 25 (July 15, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 15, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 15, 2015)
Mischief-maker transforms into equine world champion (July 15, 2015)
TDA Market (July 15, 2015)
Wardens investigate alligator attack (July 15, 2015)
Ag-Pro continues John Deere tradition (July 8, 2015)
Cattlemen, Floresville FFA unite (July 8, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 8, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 8, 2015)
Locals attend conference (July 8, 2015)
Much of peach crop excellent quality, quantity (July 8, 2015)
Nomination period open for farm committee (July 8, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 8, 2015)
Things farmers do when it rains (July 8, 2015)
Two-part water conservation landscaping workshop in SA (July 8, 2015)
U.S. cattle herd safety threatened by Brazilian beef importation? (July 8, 2015)
West Nile virus vaccine in horses (July 8, 2015)
Will new driveway affect live oak? (July 8, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (July 1, 2015)
July 2015 Gardening Calendar (July 1, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (July 1, 2015)
Native anaqua is a tasty treat for wildlife (July 1, 2015)
TDA Market Report (July 1, 2015)
Texas railway raises concerns on eminent domain (July 1, 2015)
Third time's a charm for Buck Taylor roping (July 1, 2015)