5041 Guide Meridian Rd. Bellingham, WA 98226

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You may have heard of the Whatcom County Tree Ordinance that regulates tree permit applications in Bellingham, WA, and the surrounding areas. Removing or trimming certain trees requires a tree removal permit. Bellingham, WA, is strict on the Whatcom County Tree Ordinance stipulations, and there are a few aspects to consider before your next tree removal.

If you’d like assistance, contact Timber Tree Service LLC. as the leading tree professionals in Bellingham, WA. Our team delivers professional removal services, and we are happy to apply on your behalf for a tree removal permit (Bellingham, WA, and surrounding areas included).

When must I apply for a tree removal permit, Bellingham, WA?

If you would like to remove any trees that fall within the designated Whatcom County critical areas and their buffers, you must apply for a permit. The areas include:

  • Lake Whatcom watershed
  • Lake Padden watershed
  • Lake Samish watershed
  • All areas within twenty feet of regulated shorelines


The Whatcom County Tree Ordinance regulations state that you may not remove more than 35% or 2,000 square feet of the tree canopy. You must also obtain permission from the Bellingham town council for the removal or major pruning of trees within the city limits or adjacent to public property.

The council allows for the removal of:

  • Trees that damage public improvements: If the tree’s roots affect a sidewalk or sewer pipe, a tree permit will be easy to obtain.
  • Obstructive trees: You may remove trees that block a public walkway or impede the view of drivers on the road.

Authorizations are not automatic, so it’s better to consult our tree experts to find out whether you should ask the council for permission.

When Don’t I Need a Permit?

You won’t need a permit if:

  • The tree risks people or property: For example, you don’t need permission to remove a dead tree that is likely to fall on your home. If it is a hazard (according to council rules), you can remove it.
  • Infested trees: Trees with various infestations qualify under emergency removal regulations.

Can anyone fell the tree?

No. Only a licensed professional must perform tree removal.

You might need expert assistance for a successful application if the situation is complicated. For example, unless a tree poses a clear hazard, the Whatcom County Ordinance requires a licensed tree professional, like Timber Tree Service LLC, to conduct the Tree Risk Assessment.

How do I apply for a tree removal permit (Bellingham, WA)?

The permit depends on the tree’s location. If it falls within one of the protected areas, you’ll need to download the form from the Whatcom County Planning and Development Services with:

  • Agent authorization, if applicable
  • A professional Tree Risk Assessment
  • The percentage of trees removed from the canopy
  • Fair market value of the development project, if applicable
  • Planned sediment erosion replacement measures


If the project falls within the ambit of the City of Bellingham, you must apply for a permit from that department. You’ll need your details and sufficient information about the project to allow a proper assessment. If the project entails major trimming, you must also give the details of a licensed contractor like us.

You may pay for the permit with cash, a credit card, or a debit card.

How long is the permit valid?

The tree permit is valid for 30 days from the issue date. If the project is incomplete within this timeframe, you’ll need to apply for a new permit.

What are the non-compliance penalties?

If you don’t comply with all the regulations, you could face a misdemeanor charge. If you receive a guilty verdict, you may face jail time (up to 90 days), a fine (up to $1000), or a combination of these penalties. You’ll also be liable for the cost of replacing the trees.

What happens to the wood after tree removal?

The property owner may use uninfected wood for firewood, chipping, or woodworking projects. They may keep the wood as long as it doesn’t obstruct public land or pose a hazard. For infected wood, they may arrange for a contractor to clear the timber.

Speak to the Professionals Today

The professionals at Timber Tree Service LLC. understand the particulars of municipal and county laws and tree removal regulations. With over 12 years of experience in the industry, we can help you navigate the Whatcom County Tree Ordinance and secure a tree removal permit. Bellingham, WA, is a beautiful community, and we are proud to provide outstanding tree services as a licensed, bonded, family-owned business in the area.

Give our tree professionals a call at 360-441-5033 today.

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