Senate Bill Number: 470
House Bill Number: 631
Global leaders are calling for the conservation of 50% of Earth’s landmass in an effort to mitigate the harmful effects of the climate crisis, and to preserve biodiversity important to human health and spirit.
The Maryland the Beautiful Act (2023) is Maryland’s (renewed!) response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and his Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful report, which set a new national goal of 30% of U.S. lands permanently preserved by 2030.
If Passed, What Would this Bill Do?
Set a New State Conservation Goal of 30% of Maryland lands permanently protected by 2030 and 40% of land by 2040. The State Smart Growth Subcabinet shall develop and publish a publicly accessible plan to meet the conservation goals, and this plan shall be updated every 5 years.
Create a one-time funded, $9.5M Land Trust Rapid Response Revolving Loan Fund Program under the Maryland Environmental Trust, to help smaller and medium-sized land trusts secure lands quickly.
Create a competitive $250K 40X40 Land Conservation Implementation Grant under a Maryland-based statewide nonprofit that focuses on supporting the permanent conservation of Maryland lands, to support the implementation of 40% land conserved by 2040.
Create a third category of available funding, under the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Environmental Trust’s “Keep Maryland Beautiful - Land Trust Capacity, Excellence and Stewardship Grants” – to support stewardship technology, certifications, scholarships, and support. The $100,000 annual Maryland Land Stewardship Improvement Program would include:
- ($50,000 annual allocation) for up to $10K per land trust in support of monitoring and stewardship scholarships, land monitoring and stewardship equipment, or for support of organizational accreditation and certification trainings; and
- ($50,000 annual allocation) for up to $10K per conservation organization in support of improving monitoring and stewardship of Maryland’s most important eased agricultural lands, forest lands, or lands facing a high-degree of invasive species and/or climate change related threats and damage.
Provide for $135,000 annual funding to support the woefully under-funded Keep Maryland Beautiful Grant Program’s Citizen Stewardship Fund, which develops active citizen engagement through developing innovative solutions to local, community, environmental challenges.
- Visit mdelect.net and enter your address to look up your state representatives and their contact information.
- Use this Phone Script to call your legislators! You’d be amazed by how important your voice is to your local legislator.
- Email your legislators, using the phone script above for some talking points. Phone calling is more impactful though.
- Sign the 2023 Maryland the Beautiful petition.
- Information sheet to come!
This Maryland initiative opens the door to a new, more-inclusive, model for science-based, locally driven conservation of lands, wetlands, and inland waters. As development continues throughout the state, this bill reminds decision-makers of the importance of balancing that development with smart and strategic land conservation. Plus, the bill equips land trusts with the tools to act quickly in the face of development pressure. Smaller, under-resourced, land trusts face financial challenges in preserving land and often can't stand up against powerful developers. This bill tips the scale in these David-and-Goliath situations to help the smaller land trusts preserve land in perpetuity.
Currently, Maryland has permanently conserved just under 30% of its total lands and critical habitats (~24% of land and water) and only annually monitors ~11% of land under easement. This bill sets a conservation goal of 40% of Maryland lands permanently protected by 2040, while also developing a plan for implementation, stewardship, and improved the health of the land.
Action is needed fast. Current reports from the United Nations estimate that we are losing more than 150 – 170 unique species per day across the planet; the highest rate since the extinction of the dinosaurs! This legislation will help to preserve the plant and animal biodiversity that makes Maryland, and the Chesapeake Bay, unique. But, even beyond preserving land and biodiversity, land conservation in general supports ecosystems with the potential of sinking carbon (thereby reducing the impacts of a carbon-emitting world), and creating spaces resilient to climate change impacts.
In order to meet this immense goal and fast-track conservation, the bill will create a rapid-response revolving loan fund program and other state fund programs to support nonprofit land trusts in quickly securing critical conservation opportunities, thereby increasing the capacity of land trusts in assisting the state in meeting the goal.
Environmental Justice Implications/Equity:
Another piece of 2023 Maryland legislation, the Greenspace Equity Act, aims to work tangentially with the Maryland the Beautiful Act to accelerate the acquisition, stewardship, and permanent preservation of new urban greenspaces. Urban communities will suffer first and foremost from climate change impacts, and Maryland needs to create a process to green and conserve land -- no matter how small. Urban greenspace will increase cooling shade, improve air quality, sequester carbon, increase biodiversity, create opportunities for pocket food gardens or other agricultural practices, and improve mental and physical wellbeing.
The Greenspace Equity portions of the bill were removed from the Maryland the Beautiful Act and set aside in its own legislation in the early drafting stage. IPC will continue to closely track this new legislation, and will create its own land page as more details emerge.
Maryland Legislative Briefing re-cap!
On Sunday Jan 29th, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, along with our ally Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), kicked off the 2023 legislative session with a special virtual program highlighting 3 pieces of priority legislation; Maryland the Beautiful Act, Community Solar, and EMPOWER reform!
For further information about the presented legislation, our speakers, or for additional ways you can make a difference this 2023 session, please see the Resource Document and Chat Log below:
- Video Recording - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7WkTyTicIM
- Resource Document - Click HERE
Chat Log - Click HERE
Want to do more?
Join our Advocacy Volunteers in making a real difference for our shared home.
*Our Advocacy Volunteers receive Action Alerts every two weeks throughout the spring Legislative Session, featuring MD priority legislation updates, coordinated calls to action, and notices of national or other local policy activism. Please complete your address information so that we can share those policies and efforts most relevant to your geographic location.
Do you like this page?