The selectboard shall appoint a tree warden from among the legally qualified voters of the town. 24 V.S.A. § 871. The office of tree warden has been viewed as an archaic office, but is developing new relevance in the late twentieth century. Shade and ornamental trees within the limits of public rights of way are under the control of the tree warden. The tree warden may plan and implement a town shade tree preservation program for the purpose of shading and beautifying public ways and places by planting new trees and shrubs; by maintaining the health, appearance and safety of existing trees through feeding, pruning and protecting them from noxious insect pests and diseases; and by removing diseased, dying or dead trees which create a hazard to public safety or threaten the effectiveness of disease or insect control programs. 24 V.S.A. § 2502. A municipality may appropriate a sum of money to be expended by the tree warden or, if one is not appointed, by the selectboard. 24 V.S.A. § 2503.
The tree warden may not remove trees when the owner or lessee of abutting real estate annually controls all insect pests or tree diseases on trees within the limits of a highway or place abutting such real estate. The tree warden shall enforce all laws relating to public shade trees and may prescribe rules and regulations for the planting, protection, care and removal of public shade trees pursuant to the ordinance adoption procedure in 24 V.S.A. Chapter 59. The tree warden may enter into agreements with the owners of land adjoining or facing public ways and places for the purpose of encouraging and carrying out a community-wide shade tree planting and preservation program. Only the tree warden, deputy tree warden or someone with his or her permission may cut a public shade tree. Healthy public shade trees in the residential part of a residential neighborhood shall not be felled without a public hearing by the tree warden. The tree warden may request from the Commissioner of Agriculture recommendations for control of suspected infestations, may implement recommended control measures, and may enter private land to implement these control measures. 24 V.S.A. §§ 2504–2511.