Bill Sponsors: House of Representatives - Delegate Healey, Senate - Senator Young
Bill Numbers: Senate Bill 365, House Bill 599
If Maryland's faith community can plant over 13,000 trees, why can't developers?
"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
Forests once grew on more than 95% of the state’s landscape, but now only cover 39%, less than half their former area. These losses are reflected in our continuing struggles with water quality, air quality, stream health, and the many other forest-related benefits. Forests are the most protective land use for water quality, making conversion of forests to other land uses one of the most significant threats to Maryland’s water quality.
Trees are "Creation's Cure-all". They provide native habitats and food sources for thousands of species, sequester carbon dioxide which causes global warming, provide cooling shade, and slow down rain water getting it back in the ground instead of running into streams and storm drains.
"Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." Ezekiel 47:12
The Forest Conservation Act was passed in 1992 and is a very unique piece of legislation that requires that when a development takes place on previously undeveloped land, the developer is required to replace 25% of the acreage with newly planted forest. The amendments intend to increase that percentage to 100%. If tree canopy continues to be replaced at only 25%, canopy cover will slowly decline, and the rest of society absorbs the impact of this loss. The general public works to increase tree canopy on public land, at our homes, and places of worship. So, if we're working to restore tree canopy, why aren't developers doing the same?
This new bill would require that developers replace 100% of tree canopy that is lost when new developments are constructed. It would also increase the fee-in-lieu such that fees are a disincentive, and the amendments will reduce the exemption for electricity generating facilities.