Introduction

Collectively, Homeowners Associations (HOAs) are rapidly growing landholders in America. They have legal ownership responsibility for managing trees and other natural resources found within the open space, roads, and common areas of the development. Most HOAs find themselves with the tasks of maintaining street and private trees, streams, lakes, wetlands, parks, easements, conservation areas, and even naturalized stormwater detention ponds.

All HOAs, from master-planned communities to townhouse associations, have the potential and power to protect and sustain the urban forest and natural resources we all depend upon. However, HOA board members, committee members, property management company staff, and resident volunteers often lack the experience, knowledge and resources to properly manage these assets for the benefit and safety of the residents, visitors, and the community at-large.

As a decision-maker for your HOA, you directly and indirectly impact the quantity and quality of the landscape trees, water resources, and acres of forest and natural areas located on HOA through both your actions and inactions. In a study conducted by Zogby International, the clear majority (66 percent) of residents said that their elected board should determine how the community association should prioritize and address environmental issues. Clearly, given the expectations and charge from the residents, you and your HOA leadership group needs sound urban forest and natural resource management tools to allow you to make the right decisions.

To assist you with your management and legal responsibilities, and to encourage you to adopt environmental stewardship as a priority for your HOA, this Natural Resource Stewardship for Homeowner Associations - Owner’s Manual has been prepared for your use and reference. Within this Manual, you will find practical information on managing trees and natural resources, links and tools for more information, examples of contracts and specifications, and other guidance to help you achieve your goal of creating a livable and safe neighborhood.

Using the Owner's Guide

The Owner’s Manual has been developed as an easy-to-use, interactive CD-ROM. The Manual addresses the management and maintenance of these natural resources:

  • Landscape Trees
  • Woodlands
  • Streams
  • Wetlands
  • Naturalized Stormwater Basins

Using this CD-ROM, you can read each Chapter in its entirety if you are unfamiliar with the subject. Key concepts and “how-to” instructions are linked to automatically open documents with more information. These are also listed separately at the end of each Chapter so you can go directly to the resource or tool that you need whenever you need it. A separate Appendix of all resource materials from the Chapters is also provided, as well as organizations’ and agencies’ websites that can help you as well.

Please share this CD-ROM with others and make additional copies as needed. If you make copies, remember to copy all files.