Urban Forestry

Responsibilities of the Forestry Division
The primary responsibilities of the Parks Forestry Division are:
  • Maintenance, such as trimming & removal, of all street trees (in the terrace area between the sidewalk and street) and all other trees on city-owned property or right-of-ways,
  • Determining the health of trees to decide if a tree warrants removal or if it is a hazard and must be removed,
  • Approving the planting and/or removal of trees on city-owned property or right-of-ways, 
  • Maintaining plan to deal with invasive species or insects, such as the Emerald Ash Borer
  • Applying for and maintaining the City of Manitowoc's Tree City USA status, which includes an annual Arbor Day Celebration, and
  • To provide information for the Municipal Tree Commission.
Planting, Removal, or Trimming of Trees
If you would like to plant a tree on a city right-of-way, such as on the terrace area of your property (i.e. between the sidewalk and the street), please read the planting policy and then apply for a free planting permit.  If a contractor you hire or you yourself would like to remove or trim more than 25% of a terrace tree, please read the Tree Maintenance & Removal Priority Policy and apply for a removal permit.  A fee may apply if you do not replace the terrace tree.  Property owners may trim terrace trees without a permit as long as not more than 25% of the tree is trimmed.  

For private or public terrace trees within 10 feet of power lines that need trimming, please contact Manitowoc Public Utilities at (920) 683-4600.  City of Manitowoc Forestry Staff is not certified to remove limbs within 10 feet of a power line at this time.

The Forestry Division is unable to assist with trees on private property unless they cause a public nuisance or public safety hazard. Trees over the property line may be trimmed back to the property line. 

To request forestry services or report a concern, click here or call the Parks Office at (920) 686-3580 weekdays from 7:30 AM to 4 PM.  The City Forester or his/her designee will review your request and leave a door hanger on site, if possible, indicating his/her decision regarding the request.  If you do not agree with the City Forester's action plan for a public tree, you may request to discuss it with him/her a second time, but the City's Forester decision regarding public trees, such as street trees between the sidewalk and street, is final.

If you wish to appeal the Forester's decision regarding a private property tree (for example, a tree that is NOT located on the terrace area between the sidewalk and the street), please send a written appeal via e-mail to forestry@manitowoc.org or to the Board of Public Works at 900 Quay St., Manitowoc, WI 54220 within seven (7) days.  The Board of Public Works will hear the appeal within 15 days of receipt.  After the hearing, the Board of Public Works will make a recommendation to the Common Council for action.

Emergencies involving downed trees or limbs
For emergencies involving trees or limbs down and blocking streets or sidewalks during the hours of 7:30 AM to 4 PM weekdays, contact the Parks Office at (920) 686-3580.  Outside of those hours, contact the Police Department Joint Dispatch Center at (920) 683-4470.

For questions regarding the Manitowoc County compost sites, call (920) 683-4333.

For information about city-wide brush pickups, click here or contact the Streets & Sanitation Division at (920) 686-6550.  If there is a storm in the City of Manitowoc that causes widespread damage to trees, a decision regarding a special pickup will generally be made within a few days of the storm.  Click here to sign up to receive newsflash notifications regarding special pickups by text or e-mail.

Clearances for trees and shrubs
The Forestry Division will work in conjunction with property owners or their agents to maintain and prune public street trees. For trees and shrubs, the following clearances must be met:
  • Clearance above sidewalk must be at least ten (10) feet.
  • Clearance above street (or alley) at curb line (or edge of pavement) must be at least fourteen (14) feet.
  • Shrubs must not protrude onto the sidewalk or alleyway.
  • A vision clearance area must be maintained. The triangular space at the street corner of a corner lot, or at the intersection of a public alley or driveway with a street from three (3) feet to ten (10) feet above the highest sidewalk grade, except as otherwise specifically authorized, must be kept clear/unoccupied. The space is determined by measuring from the point of intersection of the street lines along each street lot line, or street lot line and alley line, as the case may be, forming a triangle by striking an imaginary line between said points of measurements.
To report a clearance or ordinance violation, click here or call the Parks Office at (920) 686-3580 weekdays from 7 AM to 4 PM.

For information about disposal of brush at the Manitowoc County Compost sites, click here or call (920) 683-4333.

Terrace tree stumps
Regarding stump removal, the City of Manitowoc Municipal Code 8.190(14) "Removal of Trees & Stumps" states: "Trees cut down in public areas shall be removed and the root stump grubbed out, or ground out, to a depth of at least nine inches below grade measured in a straight line. If no sidewalk exists, the grade of grubbing should be one-third inch per foot from a point nine inches below the curb. All brush and debris must be removed from the public areas by the property owner or their agent. All holes shall be filled to normal grade level with topsoil or native soil as soon as practical."

Funds are currently not available for stump removals, unless they are associated with a large-scale City project, such as road re-construction, which often has different funding sources. If a property owner wishes to remove a stump, they may do so. They are not obligated to remove the stump, although they may want to hire a contractor to remove the stump or consider doing the work themselves. 

Whether the property owner or the contractor remove the stump, it is their responsibility to contact Digger's Hotline at 1-800-242-5811 at least three working days before digging, as required by law, in order to have all of the utilities marked. Only qualified personnel should perform the stump removal. They will be responsible for paying for any repairs made to the damaged utility lines. The property owner is responsible for hauling away the cuttings from the stump itself and for restoration of the terrace following the removal of the stump.

Wood Available for Sale
Wood from trees on city-owned property or right-of-ways can be purchased for a nominal charge.  Please see the attached flyer.

Wood for Sale

Wood/Brush Cutting & Harvesting on City Parkland
Cutting wood or brush on City property is prohibited unless authorized by the Operations Manager for the City of Manitowoc or his/her designee. Volunteers must discuss project details and the extent of work to be done prior to cutting or removing any wood or brush. A completed Wood/Brush Cutting and Harvesting Indemnity Agreement MUST be on file with the City of Manitowoc Parks Division. For information, e-mail parksadmin@manitowoc.org or call the Parks Office at 920-686-3580 weekdays from 7:30 AM to 4 PM.

Wood/Brush Cutting and Harvesting Indemnity Agreement

Christmas Tree Disposal
In January, Pozorski Hauling & Recycling, LLC sponsors a free, one-day pickup of natural Christmas trees in the City of Manitowoc.  For more information, contact Pozorski Hauling at (920) 682-3544. Residents who miss the pickup or wish to dispose of their natural tree earlier may take their tree to the Manitowoc County Recycling Center at 3000 Basswood Road.  For information regarding the Manitowoc County Recycling Center, call (920) 683-4333.

Tree for a Tree Program

In an effort to help Manitowoc residents regain some of the urban canopy which is being lost due to the Emerald Ash Borer’s devastating effects on our city’s Ash Tree population, the City of Manitowoc Parks & Forestry Division will again offer a Christmas Tree Exchange Program.  The Tree for a Tree Program will offer city residents the opportunity to exchange a fresh cut Christmas tree for a young deciduous tree seedling known in forestry as a “whip.”  Whips are ready for planting and are generally described as between three to four feet in height and two to four years of age.

Throughout the month of January, City of Manitowoc residents will have the opportunity to bring their fresh cut Christmas tree to the Manitowoc County Recycling Center located at 3000 Basswood Road and receive a voucher for a deciduous whip. (One voucher per resident please.)  Fresh cut trees should be free of stands, decorations, bags, tinsel, lights, etc.  Participants should get their voucher before dropping off their tree.  Recycling Center office hours are Monday through Friday between 7 am and 4 pm.  

Vouchers will be redeemable from April 15th through May 15th at Silver Creek Nurseries located at 1909 Silver Creek Road in Manitowoc.  Participation is restricted to City of Manitowoc residents and is on a “first come, first served” basis as quantities will be limited.

Municipal Code - Forestry
To view the municipal code for forestry issues, click on Municipal Code.  Then on the left side of the page, click on the words "Chapter 8 CEMETERY & PARKS."  Finally, click on 8.190 "Trees & Shrubs."

Violation of the municipal code, such as for damaging or mutilating trees or shrubs located in public terrace areas, are subject to a forfeiture. In addition to the forfeiture, court-ordered restitution may be sought for damage or loss.  

Forestry Projects
American Transmission Corporation Community Planting Program Grant Press Release March 2, 2021
Maritime Drive Bluff Management 2018