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Forest Conservation Program

NEW The Montgomery County Council passed an amendment to the County's Forest Conservation Law that became effective on August 5, 2014. Most of the changes are related to exemptions, with new exemptions relating to stormwater management facilities, stream restoration projects, and hazardous tree cutting at airports. There have also been significant changes to the "T" exemption, which is for a modification to an existing developed property. The new version of the FC Law document is linked just below.

Forest ConservationThe Forest Conservation Law aims to save, maintain and plant forested areas for the benefit of county residents and future generations. Trees and forests filter groundwater, slow stormwater runoff, help alleviate flooding and supply wildlife habitat. Trees cleanse the air, offset the heat generated by development and reduce energy needs. And in a less tangible sense, trees improve quality of life in a community by providing recreation and visual appeal.

Since 1992, the Planning Department has approved development applications that have permanently protected some 9,000 acres of existing forest and 2,000 acres of newly planted forests.

Witness a potential forest conservation violation? Call 301-495-1314.

Latest News

Forest Conservation Law Applicability for Special Exceptions form - September 2013 - download

Environmental planners have mapped more than 3,000 easements across Montgomery County to inform the public about how to respect easements and protect natural resources. Locate areas under easement.

Effective July 1, 2013: The forest conservation fee in lieu of planting rate(118 KB) is $1.10 per square foot.

shades of green bannerTo increase urban tree canopy, we have launched Shades of Green, a pilot program that provides free trees and two years of tree care to property owners in downtown Silver Spring, Montgomery Hill and downtown Wheaton.

Leaves for Neighborhoods

The Montgomery County Planning Department has launched a tree planting program, Leaves for Neighborhoods, to increase the county’s tree canopy on residential property. Partner with us by planting shade trees in your yard.

Rock Creek Reforestation Aerial MapM-NCPPC staff reforested three areas along Rock Creek near Jones Mill Road, Beach Drive and East-West Highway.

Reforestation Projects

Since 2008, the Planning Department has initiated major reforestation projects in Montgomery County stream valley parks to improve water quality and habitat.

Are you subject to the Forest Conservation Law?

Owners of properties greater than 40,000 square feet who are required to submit a development application, or special exception, or obtain a sediment control permit must comply with Forest Conservation Law provisions. Depending upon the amount of forest proposed to be removed, the property owner may qualify for an exemption from submitting a forest conservation plan.

Check out our new flow charts to find out what whether our conservation provisions apply to you. Answering these sets of questions will help you determine your next steps related to conserving our forests. View our decision tree for applicants of development plans, mandatory referrals, special exceptions, and/or sediment control permits or view our single-lot decision tree.

Anyone with property greater than 40,000 square feet in Montgomery County must complete a natural resource inventory, a complete picture of the natural resources to identify streams, slopes, critical habitat and other features. We also ask for a detailed summary of existing forest and its characteristics. Results of your application will determine whether you need to file a forest conservation plan.

M-NCPPC Staff Contact:

Mark Pfefferle

Last update: September 4, 2014