Cutting down trees in Sisters is a big deal - even when all the appropriate rules and regulations are observed. When they're not - when someone prunes or cuts down a tree that's on public property without permission, it's illegal.
Sisters Development Code states that: "Written authorization by the Community Development Director or designee is required for the removal, major pruning, or planting of public trees or the attachment of seasonal holiday lights to public trees."
The penalty for "the injury, mutilation, or death of a tree located on city property or the public right-of-way" is that the person responsible must pay for the repair or replacement of the tree.
Several instances cropped up in recent weeks where trees were topped or cut down in City of Sisters right-of-way without permission. The City's Urban Forestry Board was poised to address those incidents at its Monday meeting, but took the issues off the agenda pending legal review.
City Forester Dan Galecki is developing an inventory of all the trees in the City of Sisters right-of-way. He told the board that the total will run to about 2,000 trees. The forester is defining the attributes of the various trees and making note of disease and damage so that the health of the trees can be monitored over time. The database will also include addresses, so that a tree in a particular spot can be referenced if a problem develops.
Galecki noted that many trees in town have been damaged by Sisters' large an hungry deer population.
"That's hard to control," he noted.
The board is interested in having Galecki expand his inventory to include Sisters' parks, and possibly ODOT right-of-way as well.
"We're doing work in their right-of-way more and more," said City Public Works Director Paul Bertagna.
He noted that ODOT doesn't design around trees; the City has to assert their importance in working around them.
Additions to Galecki's scope of work would be added into the next fiscal year's budget.
Several of Sisters oldest and largest ponderosa pines have been removed recently due to disease. That trend is continuing.
Bertagna noted that, "One of our biggest trees in town is just continuing to decline - over by the weigh scales."