Aug. 11, 2017

[Aug. 12 - Update HB 7 passed the Senate and is up for final passage on the House floor.}

According to the Texas Historic Tree Coalition, HB 7, a bill that tree advocates say contains amendents that could devastate local tree protection, is scheduled to go to the Texas Senate floor today.

“Our hard-working tree canopy will take even more hits from amendments to HB 7, which has been changed dramatically from the bill passed by the House two weeks ago,” said Mary Ann Graves, president of THTC.  “We will lose local control in our communities and clear cutting of trees will be allowed. Developers would not be required to plant enough trees to mitigate for trees taken down. Tree mitigation fees would drop considerably.”

According to Andrew Dobbs of Texas Campaign for the Environment, HB 7 was negotiated among tree advocates and developer lobbyists to provide breaks on local tree removal fees when developers plant new trees. However, the Texas Senate has altered the legislation to fill it with loopholes that will allow for clearcutting of Texas trees.

Dobbs says the bill would bar communities from requiring developers to plant enough trees to make up for the cutting they’ve done. 

“They could remove a huge heritage tree and replace it with just a sapling. It would set a very low limit on tree removal fees. A developer might only have to pay $260 to remove a centuries old tree worth tens of thousands of dollars. The amendments would allow for clearcutting of all trees under two feet in diameter, including numerous heritage trees from many species.” 

However if the bill doesn't get to the Senate floor today as planned, then that's a good sign that they can't pass it, Dobbs said. 

"It's going to be close," he said.

Graves is urging tree advocates to call your state senator along with the Texas Speaker of the House, the Honorable Joe Straus at 512-463-1000 and voice your opinion.

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