Four Specimen Trees Gain Permanent Protection

Published on January 27, 2018


  • Owners nominate their trees for protection

  • Protection offered under Tree Preservation Ordinance

  • Status based on size and quality


The Arlington County Board today named a Willow Oak, a Blackgum, an American Beech and a Southern Red Oak, each an outstanding example of its species, Specimen Trees. The trees, all on private property, were nominated by their owners for the protected status afforded under the County's Tree Preservation Ordinance.

"Our County is working on many fronts to preserve trees and to protect our tree canopy," Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said. "Specimen trees are one piece of this puzzle. These are special trees, usually very old and deeply loved by their owners, that have been found to have such outstanding qualities that they merit special protections."

The Board voted unanimously to adopted the ordinances designating the four trees, all on private property, as Specimen Trees, affording them protection in perpetuity from removal or injury. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 23 on the agenda for the he Saturday, January 27, 2018 Regular County Board meeting.

The Southern Red tree designated today had the good fortune to belong to Nora Palmatier, chair of the County's Urban Forestry Commission and the recipient of the County's Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Award.

[caption id="attachment_14820" align="alignright" width="225"]Oak looms over house Southern Red Oak designated Specimen Tree[/caption]

"Having a Specimen Tree in the yard is really important to us," Palmatier said. "First, there are the bragging rights so we can show photos when others show off grandkids. Second, this massive oak's leaves keep the house shaded at all hours during the summer so our air conditioner rarely runs which saves money and is more relaxing with fresh air from open windows. Third, our tree is an apartment building for birds, squirrels and pollinators so we are constantly entertained by our neighbors' antics."

"Yet most important," she said, "designated Specimen Trees are officially listed on the real estate property deed. Whoever buys our old house in the future will want to replace it, and they'll note the magnificent Southern Red Oak in the back requires special protections."

Anyone who cuts down the tree, she noted, would be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500. "Oaks naturally live hundreds of years, and we hope simply by making this an extra step, our tree will continue benefitting the neighborhood another hundred years."

Tree Preservation Ordinance


The County Board adopted the Tree Preservation Ordinance in 2002. Under the ordinance, the Board can designate Heritage, Memorial, Specimen and Street Trees on both public and private property, affording those trees certain protections from removal or injury. To learn more about the County's Tree Ordinance or how to nominate a tree under one of several categories, visit the County website.

Arlington's newest Specimen Trees



  • The Willow Oak, at 2411 North Monroe Street, is owned by Beverly Fourier. The tree's circumference is nearly 193 inches, and it stands 130 feet tall, with a crown spread of more than 80 feet.

  • The Blackgum, at 3225 North Albemarle Street, is owned by Mary Beth Doughty. The tree boasts a circumference of nearly 74 inches, stands 60 feet tall and has a crown spread of 50 feet.

  • The American Beech, at 1600 North Jackson St., is owned by Bradley James. Its excellent condition earned the tree its protected status. Sixty feet tall, it has a circumference of nearly 106 inches and a crown spread of more than 55 feet.

  • The Southern Red Oak at 5220 11th Road North is owned by Nora Palmatier. The tree has a circumference of 192 inches and stands 120 feet tall, with an 80-foot-plus crown spread. It is currently the County Champion for the Southern Red Oak species.


Learn more about Arlington County's urban forestry and natural resources.