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Petition for Arborist Licensing in SLC


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I believe Salt Lake City should enact an Arborist Licensing program to protect tree care consumers, tree care professionals, and all citizens of the city that benefit from a well-maintained urban forest. It would set a minimum standard for competency and insurance coverages for all businesses performing tree pruning and tree removal within the city. 


Who benefits from an Arborist Licensing program?

All citizens would benefit from an Arborist Licensing program as it positively impacts our urban forest. The Salt Lake City urban forest, which is all of the trees in the city on both public and private land, filters pollution from air and water, lowers temperatures in summer, reduces energy costs, reduces crime, improves physical and mental health, and has many other benefits. 


Homeowners will have peace of mind when hiring a tree care company to work on their property. They will be able to simply reference a public listing of Licensed Arborists, rather than evaluate a company themselves, which requires valuable time and knowledge. 


Tree Care Professionals will benefit from better public perception, higher standards and safety, and a level field of competition. 


How would it work?


An Arborist Licensing program would be run by the SLC Urban Forestry office. It would set liability insurance requirements and ensure consumer protection against lapses in coverage. It would require a certificate of workers compensation. Competency would be evaluated by administering a test, or require businesses to be staffed by an ISA Certified Arborist. 


A Certified Arborist is trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of arboriculture. Certified Arborists adhere to a code of ethics, perform all work to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards, and follow workplace safety requirements set in ANSI Z133. Continuing education and recertification is required every three years.


Arborist Licensing programs are common in municipalities of the intermountain west including: Denver, CO; Boulder, CO; Grand Junction, CO; Colorado Springs, CO; Erie, CO; Boise, ID; Cheyenne, WY; and Casper, WY. There are none in Utah.


I think Salt Lake City should require all tree care businesses to have at least one ISA Certified Arborist on staff. New businesses should be required to obtain an Arborist License before receiving their business license. Existing businesses should be given a reasonable amount of time to acquire the skills, knowledge, and eligibility to take and pass the Certified Arborist exam. Exceptions may be made for landscaping companies that work only on small trees and tree plantings, but they should at least be required to pass a competency test, as many tree disorders are the result of poor planting practices. 


Why is it important?


All citizens of Salt Lake City are impacted by the quality of tree care on public and private trees in our urban forest. While there are ordinances pertaining to tree care standards on city-owned public trees and public heritage trees, trees on private property are not protected by these ordinances. 


Anyone that wishes to start a business pruning or removing trees on private property in Salt Lake City may legally do so without possessing liability insurance coverage or proof of competency. No state or local laws prevent any business from “topping” or improperly pruning trees, removing trees without good reason, or damaging designated heritage trees on private property.


When considering hiring a tree care business, consumers are presently required to do their own research. It is recommended to receive multiple quotes, verify arborists’ credentials, and request several insurance certificates directly from an insurance provider. Many consumers inadvertently hire unprofessional companies that perform poor quality work, leaving homeowners with no recourse.


We can create a program to ensure quality care for all of the trees in our city and protect the future of our urban forest. 


Scott Sinner

ISA Certified Arborist WE-12480A

Owner of Aspect Tree Care


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