Cutting and collecting windthrows (fallen trees)

A storm of extreme winds hit Sutton and its surroundings on December 23rd. Thousands of trees were broken, uprooted, or knocked down by these winds. Windthrow is the term used to describe a site regrouping such damaged trees on the ground.

Photo credit : Karl Vachon

Given the magnitude of the situation and the number of requests received on this subject, here is a reminder of the requirements concerning the recovery of windthrows.

The by-law in force in Sutton (and in several neighbouring municipalities) requires an authorization for windthrow recuperation cuts if the windfall covers a cumulative area of 0.5 ha or more. In such a case, in addition to the MRC’s tree cutting application form (for commercial and large area) duly completed and signed, a silvicultural description signed by a forestry engineer justifying and describing the recuperation cut and a tree marking certificate* prepared by a forestry engineer are required (see the Permit Applications page for more details).

*Due to the exceptional situation of last December’s storm, a tree marking certificate prepared by a forestry engineer will not be required.

For information on the standards to be respected during tree cutting, consult Zoning By-law number 115-2, chapter 8, section 3: Provisions relating to the protection and enhancement of trees and wooded areas (page 206 and following).

Also always note that, to cut down a tree still standing in urban perimeters or in a residential sector, an authorization is required. In addition, any tree cut down in the village core must be replaced by another tree of at least five (5) centimetres in diameter on another part of the same property or lot.

Trees fallen in a watercourse

If a tree has fallen into a watercourse and you are concerned that it may be causing an obstruction to the flow of water, contact the Town’s Environmental Inspector at 450-538-2290 or send an e-mail with photos and location to [email protected]. A representative from the Urban Planning and/or Public Works Department will come to the site to assess the situation.

If a threat to the safety of persons or property is identified by a Town representative, the owner of the bank from which the tree originated will be required to remove it. It is suggested that a licensed tree removal professional be used. Recommended safety and environmental precautions include:

  • Work in teams of two;
  • do not cut trees within 3 m of electrical wires, check with Hydro-Québec;
  • do not handle oil or gasoline near the water;
  • ideally use biodegradable oil;
  • Do not leave branches or trunks in the waterway or its bank once the work is finished.