Forest Conservation Act Amendments

Bill Sponsors: House of Representatives - Del. Anne Healey, Senate - Senator Young

Bill Numbers: Senate Bill 610, House Bill 766

Actions You Can Take

Phone Script to use when calling your legislator. Click on to find your representative.

Sign this Petition in support of Forest Conservation.

Click to Tweet! If you use twitter, click this link to tweet in support of this bill. 

Template Letter to download and send to your state representative. 

Thou Shall Not Steal Trees from the Next Generation

"Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet?" Ezekiel 34:18

When was the last time you spotted a child climbing a tree?


  • Maryland lost 14,488 acres of forest to development over the past eight years (according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources), despite a state policy that says we should be dramatically increasing our tree canopy.
  • Maryland has a “no net loss” forest policy which means the state should either not lose ANY forest, or it should replant the same amount it is losing. That isn’t happening because the definition of “forest” is too narrow in the law, so many, many forests are being destroyed during development without being replaced.
  • The Forest Conservation Act has been on the books for 24 years, but needs strengthening because the law is not meeting its intended purpose to minimize forest destruction by development. 
  • Since 2013, the faith community has planted over 13,000 trees at their churches, synagogues, and temples. However, for every 1 acre of forest planted by the faith community, Maryland lost 40 acres to development.

Society cannot keep up with this pace of forest decimation. The Forest Conservation Act amendments will help protect priority forests for future generations. The loss of tree canopy is felt by the general public and future generations, while developers profit from transforming land away from its natural state. 

The amendments will do two things: Retain existing forests and Mitigate forest loss. Here's how:

  1. Retain Existing Forests -- The amendments propose to broaden the definition of "priority forest" so that more critical forests are protected by the law. Currently, the law is limited to forests on slopes or near rivers, which is too narrow and leaves many forests at risk. The amendments also make it harder for developers to remove priority forests and require stronger justifications for forest destruction. 
  2. Mitigate Forest Loss - These amendments will increase the replacement requirements for "priority forests" from a 25% to 100%. Presently, requirements are more lenient and allow replacement of priority forests at only a 1:4 ratio, meaning for every 4 acres a developer removes, they only need to replant 1 acre. The amendments would increase this requirement to 1:1, but only for forests that meet the definition of "priority forest." Developers often pay a fee-in-lieu of replanting trees. For this reason, the amendments will disincentivize the fee-in-lieu and require counties to use that money to plant new forests. For example, Anne Arundel County has millions of unspent dollars collected from fee-in-lieu, and it's time those dollars are used to reforest for the next generation. 

For additional background information, review this Value of Trees or this Fact Sheet