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Homeowner shares frustrating before-and-after photos after neighbor destroyed their decades-old tree: 'You need a lawyer'

"This is just so wrong."

"This is just so wrong."

Photo Credit: iStock

A homeowner turned to the internet for advice after their neighbor did unsolicited pruning. Sadly, the overzealous job appears to have made a decades-old tree "unsalvageable." 

"My neighbor cut down a 50-year-old tree that was on my property. He was worried it was growing into his property, so he cut off all the branches," a Redditor explained in r/treelaw, a community dedicated to stories about tree law but that doesn't give legal advice. 

"This is just so wrong."
Photo Credit: Reddit
"This is just so wrong."
Photo Credit: Reddit

The original poster added that Wisconsin, where they live, allows overhanging limbs to be removed, but because the neighbor cut off all of the branches, the tree can't be saved. 

"The neighbor didn't ask for permission to cut down the tree, they only briefly mentioned years ago that they thought it was encroaching onto their property," the OP said. "I'm wondering about what legal options could be taken here."

They shared before-and-after photos revealing the extent of the heartbreaking damage, with the majestic tree's foliage now shockingly reduced to a tall, bare stump. 

Other Redditors were overwhelmingly supportive of the OP and suggested they turn to professionals for further guidance. 

"You need a lawyer in the jurisdiction where the tree is," one person said

"Get an arborist to assess," someone else recommended, expressing hope that the OP would eventually receive some form of financial restitution.  

While tree law varies from state to state, cutting down trees on someone else's property can result in hefty fines. In New Jersey, one homeowner was fined $1,000 per tree removed without a permit, and nuances in the law may have ballooned the number further. 

Pollution from dirty fuels is the primary cause of an overheating planet, but the loss of plant life also plays a role. Trees are carbon-soaking allies that purify our air. 

When a tree is destroyed, vital pollinators and other wildlife have less shelter and food, and humans lose a way to keep cooler during extreme heat events, which are now more common as a result of rising global temperatures. 

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to see disputes over trees. Another homeowner lost nearly an acre of heavily wooded land after their neighbor trespassed on their property. 

While trees typically take anywhere from a decade to hundreds of years to mature, there are other ways to support your local ecosystem if you find yourself in a similar situation as the OP. Clover, for example, is a quick-growing natural lawn option that saves people thousands of dollars on lawn maintenance over a 10-year span. 

Another Redditor highlighted the importance of surveying the property as the OP sought justice.

"Step one. Survey. First thing you have to prove is that the property line is where everyone assumes it is," they wrote

"Hopefully he has money to pay for the damage," another said. "... This is just so wrong."

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