New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

Who is responsible to remove a tree when it falls into a stream?

tree fallen in stream

There is no general obligation to clean up a tree that falls into a stream. There may be a right to clean up the tree if there is a threat to the highway due to the change of flow caused by the blockage. If so, you may have the right to clean the tree, but you may need to go to the County Highway Superintendent to get authorization. In any case, you need to be sure you don’t create a problem and unless it is an emergency, you probably need at least a general permit from DEC to do the work. You may also have liability for any damage you cause when cleaning up the tree.

See pages 29 and 48 in our Power and Duties workshop manual. (Link provided, but we can send a hard copy if needed). You may also want to review the ‘Redbook’ on the Office of the Town Highway Superintendent available from the Association of Towns.


Cover of the Powers and Duties workbook

Powers and Duties of Local Highway Officials (pdf)

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