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In order for residents and businesses to add temporary lighting to a street tree, they must obtain a Seasonal Street Tree Lighting Permit.

Primarily this is used by businesses along the State Street mall area.

Application process

Applicants must contact Urban Forestry to make an appointment with an Urban Forestry representative to inspect the trees that will hold the lighting and issue the permit if appropriate. A representative from the entity seeking the seasonal tree lighting permit must be present at the time of the inspection.

Contact Urban Forestry via email or by calling them at 608-266-4816.

Permit requirements and restrictions

  • The applicant/permit holder is responsible for ensuring that all installations conform to the National Electrical Standards and Codes and Madison General Ordinances.


  • Pruning of branches to accommodate the installation and removal of lights shall NOT be allowed under this permit.


  • The removal of tree guards to accommodate the installation and removal of lights shall NOT be allowed under this permit.


  • Trees that measure 4 inches or greater in diameter will be allowed to have seasonal lights.  The diameter will be confirmed by City Forester or their designee as part of this permit process.


  • The lower part of the tree trunk is the only part of the tree that will be allowed to have seasonal lights. The trunk area is from the base of the tree to the first branch attachment.


  • Installation of seasonal lights shall be done in manner that does not harm trees. 
    • All lighting attachments to trees shall be loose to prevent bark damage.
    • All material used for attaching lights and wires shall first be approved by the City Forester or their representative.  No materials that puncture or damage the bark will be allowed. Under no circumstances shall any part of the lighting system be attached to any part of the tree with wire, duct tape, screws, staples, inflexible bands, cable ties or masking tape.
    • Any parts of the tree-lighting systems found by the City to be improperly installed or causing damage to the tree shall be loosened or removed and replaced by the permit holder.
  • If at any time the lighting devices or their components become a safety hazard, they shall be removed at the expense of the permit holder.


  • If any trees, tree trunks, branches, or limbs on trees with the right-of-way are cut, pruned, or damaged as the result of the lighting activity, the permit holder shall be assessed for damages per Madison General Ordinance 23.24.


  • Issues with street trees shall be reported to City Forestry at (608) 266-4816 from 7:00am to 3:00 pm.


  • The City reserves the right to prune or remove trees to abate potential risk to the public.  In the event of an emergency that requires action on street trees that contain permitted seasonal lighting, the City will NOT be held responsible for damages done to the fixtures and associated equipment.


  • Seasonal lighting permit is valid for 90 days only.


  • All cords must maintain a minimum clearance height of 9 feet over sidewalk.


  • No cords are allowed over roadways.


  • The City reserves the right to remove lights in cases of emergency to abate potential risk to the public.


  • This permit is issued with the condition that the grantee will obey all ordinances and rules and regulations.

LIABILITY:  The applicant/permit holder shall be liable to and hereby agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the City of Madison, and its officers, officials, agents, and employees against all loss or expense (including liability costs and attorney's fees) by reason of any claim or suit, or of liability imposed by law upon the City or its officers, officials, agents or employees for damages because of bodily injury, including death at any time resulting therefrom, sustained by any person or persons or on account of damages to property, including loss of use thereof, arising from, in connection with, caused by or resulting from the applicant/permit holder’s and/or Subcontractor's acts or omissions in the performance of this permit, whether caused by or contributed to by the negligence of the City, its officers, officials, agents, or its employees.