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
Add some ‘glads’ to your garden (June 29, 2016)
County Farm Bureau: Giving back to the community, more (June 29, 2016)
Dr. Johnson receives Honorary FFA degree (June 29, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 29, 2016)
Pleasanton cowgirl represents Texas in Tennessee (June 29, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 29, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 29, 2016)
U.S. Cattlemen defend beef: Say no to ‘Meatless Monday’ (June 29, 2016)
County committee nomination period begins (June 22, 2016)
Hartmann takes the steer by the horns to win state championship (June 22, 2016)
La Vernia FFA wraps up school year with honors, scholarships (June 22, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 22, 2016)
Root rot knocks out roses (June 22, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 22, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 22, 2016)
A student’s ag-related journey (June 15, 2016)
Family Land Heritage news (June 15, 2016)
Five dirty truths on agriculture (June 15, 2016)
Horseherb galloping through yards (June 15, 2016)
Kristin Storey: South Texas queen to compete for national title (June 15, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 15, 2016)
Miller announces assistance for farmers devastated by floods (June 15, 2016)
No “rain, rain, go away” as precipitation persists (June 15, 2016)
Schwartz takes lead as Texas state veterinarian (June 15, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 15, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 15, 2016)
Texas Rural Leadership Program (June 15, 2016)
It’s almost rodeo time in Stockdale (June 8, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 8, 2016)
Save seed pods for next fall (June 8, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 8, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 8, 2016)
Big Time Texas Hunts entries now on sale (June 1, 2016)
Burbridge leads the way in Buck Taylor roping event (June 1, 2016)
Farm Bureau solicits AgLead, FarmLead participants (June 1, 2016)
June 2016 Gardening Calendar (June 1, 2016)
Livestock Market Reports (June 1, 2016)
Save squash from vine borers (June 1, 2016)
State Farm Bureau testifies on agricultural use valuation (June 1, 2016)
TDA Market Recap (June 1, 2016)
Texas Hay Report (June 1, 2016)