Smart Growth Maryland and our partners in the Smarter Growth Alliance for Howard County successfully advocated for improved protections for Howard County’s forests.

On Dec. 2, the Howard County Council approved legislation that requires developers to conserve more trees on-site, increases replanting requirements, and incentivizes replanting inside the watershed where the trees were cut—a policy aimed at limiting the practice of cutting trees in the more developed eastern portion of the county and replanting in the rural west. As a result of this practice, areas such as Ellicott City and Elkridge were losing trees needed to reduce flooding, filter water, and provide wildlife habitat.

We’d like to extend our thanks to County Executive Calvin Ball who brought this legislation to the County Council and worked to keep it strong in the face of pressure from the development industry. And we appreciate the support of Councilmembers Rigby, Jones, Jung, and Walsh, who voted in favor of the legislation.

For the past several years, environmental advocates have called upon state legislators to strengthen Maryland’s 1991 Forest Conservation Act. While those efforts have been unsuccessful thus far, we are excited to see progress at the county level.

In addition to the bill passed in Howard County, a similar Anne Arundel County bill initiated by County Executive Steuart Pittman passed in November. Of all Maryland counties, Anne Arundel has experienced the most forest loss over the past ten years – a trend that the recently passed legislation will halt. We thank County Executive Pittman for his leadership on this issue.

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