Tree Ordinance

Understanding the Tree Preservation Ordinance

Covington’s Tree Preservation Ordinance establishes regulations and procedures for preserving more existing trees, retains desirable trees and maintains a viable tree canopy for the City of Covington. It also:

  • Allows cutting of hazard trees without City permit or fees (except in critical areas)
  • Helps balance reasonable development of property with reasonable preservation and enhancement of surrounding property values, and increase privacy for residential sites
  • Promotes building practices consistent with the City’s natural topography, soils, and vegetation features
  • Restricts tree cutting in critical areas; and
  • Enables City staff to administer code violations more effectively

The following activities or sites are exempt from both the minor tree removal permit and major tree clearing permit requirements provided they abide by certain conditions (as cited in the official ordinance):

1. Sites with 20 significant trees or less (trees at least six inches diameter).

2. Emergency removal of hazard trees provided such removal shall be reported to the City within ten (10) days on a form provided by the City.  This exemption shall not apply to existing trees located within designated tree tracts.

3. Normal and routine maintenance of existing trees provided that said maintenance does not involve removal of healthy trees and is not detrimental to the health of any trees.  Trenching or digging to a depth of greater than one foot within the critical root zone and tree topping is not allowed.

4. Commercial and wholesale nurseries and tree farms.

5. Tree harvesting with a State Forest Practices Permit, issued by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources under RCW 76.09.470.

6. Residential sites one acre or less and commercial or industrial sites two acres or less, provided no critical areas or buffers are disturbed, and provided no land clearing, grading or filling is involved.

7. Removal of trees on City owned property for installation of utilities and public facilities and maintenance of City property.

8. Limited removal of trees on existing, developed residential tracts between one (1) and ten (10) acres within 35 feet of an existing building footprint and 15 feet of an accessory building footprint. Exempted areas for tree removal are measured from the edge of a building wall, road, drive, or easement out to the critical root zones of any tree. Trees outside of the aforementioned 35 foot and 10 foot areas shall not be removed without tree removal permits.

9. Limited exemption for firewood removal on ten acres or less.  Removal of up to four (4) trees annually for personal use as firewood, not resale, from any residentially zoned parcel of land up to ten acres; provided the property owner does not remove trees below the minimum 20 tree threshold for tree preservation as required in CMC 18.45.0860.

To read the complete details of the tree preservation ordinance, a brochure is available at Covington City Hall or for questions, please contact the City at (253) 480-2400.