Responsibility for Trees Falling

After the tragic death of a Belmont child, I have received several inquiries about what could be done to prevent such an occurrence in the future.

The town does actively inspect trees on public property and also trees that overhang public spaces. The town does not routinely inspect all of the 10,000 plus public shade trees in town, but public works employees are on the streets constantly and advise the tree warden when they observe problem limbs or trees. Additionally, the tree warden is out and about himself making observations. Anyone with concerns about a public tree should call the Department of Public Works at 617-993-2680.

Tragically, the responsibility for maintaining private trees (like the one that fell recently) is a private responsibility, rather like the responsibility that one bears for paying attention while driving. It is hard to imagine the state or the town, within its current resource constraints, taking responsibility for maintaining or even inspecting private trees.

Everyone should know, however, that they can be held personally liable for damage or injuries caused when their trees fall.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.