Elizabeth ShawThis mature Watertown maple tree straddling a property line illustrates the issue addressed by House Bill 1849. By James Briand, Trees for Watertown
Watertown residents already feel the impact of climate change in warmer average temperature and stronger storms. Managing such change in the midst of rapid development requires an up to date and flexible regulatory framework. Three pending pieces of Massachusetts state legislation aim to address that need, by preserving mature trees that mitigate the impact of climate change today and by adding to the tree canopy to prepare Massachusetts for the future. The first bill, An Act To Update the Shade Tree Law (House Bill 2195), will update a 19th century law designed to protect trees bordering public roadways. Progressive in its day, the legislation became less effective as fines and obligations failed to keep pace with inflation and changing lifestyles.