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Montgomery County Forest Conservation Laws amended to achieve “No Net Loss of Forest”

Bright green trees

Approved amendments to Montgomery County will achieve greater forest planting and forest conservation in the county

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department’s work to achieve a more balanced approach to forest conservation in Montgomery County through its No Net Loss Initiative has resulted in the passage of Bill 25-22 by the Montgomery County Council. Bill 25-22, along with a County Council resolution to adopt Montgomery County Planning Board Regulation No. 25-22 on Forest Conservation, will amend Chapter 22A of the Montgomery County Code and Chapter 22A of the Code of Montgomery County Regulations.

The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, had approved the proposed changes to the Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law and Regulations  in April 2022. The No Net Loss of Forest Initiative seeks to achieve equal or greater area of forest planted than forest removed on a county-wide level, by projects subject to the Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law, while also allowing development to continue moving forward.

“We are so pleased that this bill and resolution passed unanimously at the County Council. We pride ourselves as being a leader in forest conservation in the state of Maryland,” said Acting Planning Director Tanya Stern. “Our forest conservation planners and inspectors are experts on the Forest Conservation Law and have worked on several amendments to strengthen the law since its introduction 30 years ago. Now, Bill 25-22 represents a transformative step forward. These updates will not only make sure development and infrastructure projects are balanced with forest conservation, but they will also bring us one step closer to meeting the environmental goals outlined in the Climate Action Plan and Thrive Montgomery 2050.”

Planners began work on the No Net Loss of Forest Initiative in November 2021 and developed recommendations based on five stakeholder working group meetings, which included non-profits, agency representatives, and the development community. Led by Planning’s Forest Conservation staff, the working group took a creative approach, considering both the need to increase forest planting and protection in the County and the increased cost of forest mitigation to developments that need to comply with the Forest Conservation Law. The group reviewed data, reports, other “no net loss of forest” amendments, and analyzed impacts using real projects with Forest Conservation Plans.

Montgomery County Council Expedited Bill 25-22 will next be transmitted to the County Executive for signature. Once signed, the amended Forest Conservation Law will take effect, and will apply to all Forest Conservation Plans and Forest Conservation Plan Exemption applications submitted after the effective date. Learn more about the County Council’s process.