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Revised Summary of Important Rights/Option of Property Owners

The following is a brief summary of some of the more important rights and options available to you, as property owners, in connection with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (“ODA”) and United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Tree Removal Program.

  1. Notice.      

Pursuant to the ALB Tree Removal Contract between the USDA and Davey Tree Company (the “General Contractor”), property owners are to receive notice of tree removal in multiple ways before any of the work is performed.  First, the USDA/ODA will provide property owners with notice that there are trees on their property which need to be removed.  The notice will inform the property owner that the General Contractor will be making contact to make arrangements for the removal of designated trees.  Second, the General Contractor is required to notify property owners via written notice (door hangers), no later than three (3) days before removal begins.  Third, the General Contractor’s arborist must prepare a written Property Assessment Form/Removal Plan in consultation with the property owner or occupant of the property prior to removals.  The property owner must be given the opportunity to review, contribute to, and sign off on the Plan, which then must be approved by the USDA prior to removal of any trees. The Plan must identify (i) the number of trees to be removed, (ii) collateral non-infested trees that may need to be removed, (iii) any existing property damage, (iv) property owner contact information, and (v) any other information deemed necessary by the General Contractor.  If the General Contractor is not able to notify the property owner for any reason, the Contractor must document their efforts to the USDA.  See ALB Tree Removal Contract, §§2.4 & 2.4.1

 2. Verification. 

If a property owner has a specific tree or trees where they question whether there is evidence of ALB infestation, the owner can call the ALB Project Office (513 381-7180) and ask that someone come out to provide verification.  There should be plenty of opportunity for this to occur prior to the start of tree removals on a property, as property owners should receive notification of infested trees at least three times: (i)  Official notification through a Legal Notice by the Ohio Department of Agriculture; (ii) hand delivered notification and marking of the infested trees by ALB project staff in advance of tree removals; and (iii) door hanger notification by Young’s General Contracting at least 7 days in advance of cutting.  Property owners should promptly make this request to the ALB Project Office, in order to allow the APHIS time to do the verification, showing the property owner where the tree has evidence of infestation, and then if needed, time for the owner to get a second opinion (see below) before Young’s mobilizes to the site.  Property owners should also do what they can to educate themselves as to what to look for on trees as indications of ALB infestation.  APHIS and ODA have limited resources, so property owners should be selective and exercise good faith in limiting the number of such requests for verification.

 

3. Second Opinion.

APHIS/ODA has no obligation to provide a second opinion to property owners in the event the owner is not satisfied with the verification provided by the ALB Project Office (mentioned above).  Consequently, the cost of obtaining a second opinion from an arborist, and arranging for it to be done, will be the sole responsibility of the individual property owner.  The Bethel ALB Cooperative has made arrangements with a certified arborist to be on-call to provide a second opinion as to whether the tree is infested.  The arborist is Jonathan Butcher of Madison Tree Care and Landscaping, (513) 616-6067.  Please call Jonathan to discuss exact pricing and rates for an inspection.  Be prepared to tell the arborist the exact location on the tree where the USDA/ODA says there is evidence of infestation, in order to minimize the arborist’s time on site and cost to you.  It may take one to two days for the arborist to visit your property.  It is important that the owner promptly initiate the verification process described above, so that any second opinion the owner may want can be obtained prior to Young’s mobilizing to their property.  APHIS/ODA is in no way bound by the second opinion obtained from the property owner’s arborist.

 

4. Stump Removal. 

Pursuant to the USDA Contract, after a tree is removed from the maintained part of your property, the stump must be ground down to between 6” and 8” below grade and then backfilled with topsoil.  See ALB Tree Removal Solicitation, §§ 3.3.2.1, 3.3.3 and 3.3.3.1.  Tree stumps located in unmanaged wooded lots, or stumps where there is an obstruction preventing grinding below grade, are to be cut “flush” with the ground.  Flush is defined as within 2” of grade.  See ALB Tree Removal Solicitation, §§ 1.0.2 and 3.3 et seq.  The above work is to be done prior to Young’s leaving each Property or by the end of that day’s work, should work continue for more than one day.  ALB Tree Removal Solicitation at § 3.3.1.

5. Site Restoration. 

The General Contractor is generally responsible for restoring all properties to the condition existing before the tree removal work was started. 

  • The General Contractor is required to do its work with due care to minimize disruption, taking precautions against damage to property, and to protect against damage to existing non-infested trees, plants, grass, turf, vegetation, or other exterior fixtures. See ALB Tree Removal Contract, §§2.5 & 3.2.
  • The General Contractor is required to clean, sweep, grade, and restore to prior condition all areas of paving, lawns, walkways, sidewalks, fixtures, fences, woodlots, etc., that have been damaged, dirtied, altered or displaced by the work.  All of which must be done prior to the Contractor leaving each property each day even if work will need to be continued for more than one day.  §3.3.1.
  • The General Contractor must restore all work sites to the conditions existing prior to tree removal.  However, the General Contractor is not responsible for restoration of pre-existing damage, provided the General Contractor makes the USDA aware of any pre-existing damage prior to commencement of activities through the work plan, including photographs or video documentation of the pre-existing damage. §§3.2 & 3.3.3
  • The General Contractor is required to protect against unnecessary or avoidable damage to existing trees, plants, grass, vegetation and other fixtures. §3.6. Generally trees must be topped and limbed prior to felling unless collateral damage to property can be avoided.  §3.3.1.Where collateral damage cannot be avoided, the General Contractor is required to restore areas to the condition existing prior to the removal operations.  This includes restoring any damage to areas of paving, lawns, walkways, sidewalks, fixtures, fences, flower beds, etc., that were damaged, dirtied, altered or displaced by the tree removal work.  §§2.5, 3.0 & 3.3.3.  All such damage must be repaired within two (2) weeks or other timeframe as agreed upon by the parties, and the Contractor must obtain a release signed by the property owner.  §2.1.0
  • If irreparable collateral damage occurs to trees and/or shrubbery that was not predetermined and documented on the Property Assessment Form prior to removal, an equal number of non-ALB host trees/shrubbery must be replanted during the next planting season.  Replacement trees must be a minimum of 2 DBH, and the type and replacement of the trees must be approved by the homeowner and the USDA.  §2.5
  • The General Contractor is required to use reasonable measures to minimize erosion and soil damage, including but not limited to grading of ruts.  §3.0.  The General Contractor must repair turf damage.  If there is existing grass, the ground must be restored using topsoil and grass/seed.  Likewise with other types of ground cover (e.g., flowerbeds, mulch beds, ivy, etc.). §§ 3.3.1 & 3.3.3.
  • If an object (such as a fence) is one that provides the owner with privacy or security it must be replaced to its original condition prior to the onset of darkness and prior to the end of the removal operation or as agreed to in writing by the property owner.  §3.3.3

 

6. Documenting Property Damage.

 Please use the link below to access instructions and suggestions for properly documenting collateral property damage resulting from the ALB tree removal efforts on your property, and completing the available property damage forms.”