A tree service company out of Redmond felled a large ponderosa pine tree on Larch Street just south of Hood Avenue last week. According to the City of Sisters, the tree was in the right-of-way of the City of Sisters, and the tree service had no authorization to bring the tree down.

Cascade Tree Works owner Aidan Grady told The Nugget that the adjacent property owner believed the tree was on his property. Grady said the tree had blue stain, evidence of beetle infestation.

Regardless of its condition taking down the tree without authorization puts both the tree service and the property owner in legal jeopardy.

“The property owner and arborist are going to be responsible for compensating the City and the community for the felling of that tree,” said City Manager Cory Misley.

Misley said removal of trees in the City right-of-way is conducted with approval from the City after the City’s forester has determined that a tree is dead, diseased, or dangerous.

This is not the first time a private property owner has gotten into hot water for removing trees in the City right-of-way. In 2018, homeowners on South Pine Street and the tree service they employed to remove nine mature ponderosa pine trees from City right-of-way in front of their houses were hit with a fine. Fines and compensation in such cases can climb to many thousands of dollars. In the 2018 case, the fines were considerably less than the tens of thousands of dollars that could have been assessed.

The City has reached out to arborists across Central Oregon to drive home the point that they should check with the City before going to work.

“If you are not 100 percent sure that it is on your property, assume that it is NOT on your property,” Misley said.

A phone call from the arborist and/or the property owner can save a whole lot of legal hassle and tremendous expense.

“If someone isn’t sure whether a tree is on their property or in the City right-of-way, our public works crew will come out and tell them,” Misley said.

In this case, the tree was felled blocking a street without informing the City, and, according to Public Works Director Paul Bertagna, it was also brought down on top of a 12-inch water main.

Misley said that the City plans “swift response within our legal authority – and probably pursuing all the legal authority that we have.”