Legislative Update: HB1197—Prince George’s County—Forest Conservation Act—Net Tract Area PG/MC 114-16

As this year’s Maryland General Assembly session came to an end on April 11th, bill (HB1197) that would have made an exception for specific development projects in Prince George’s County to the Maryland Forest Conservation Act’s replanting requirements never had a vote in the House Committee, effectively defeating it according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. HB1197—Prince George’s County—Forest Conservation Act—Net Tract Area PG/MC 114-16 This bill would exempt specific development projects in Prince George’s County from the Maryland Forest Conservation Act. Trees are critical for clean water and Bay restoration, but this bill would reduce a project’s requirements for replanting—thus reducing forest cover in a county that already has the highest rates of deforestation in the state and further degrading water quality by removing the filtration benefits that trees provide. This bill also sets a bad precedent, both in amending state law for the benefit of a single developer and in allowing a jurisdiction to override an aspect of existing state law. CBF Position: Oppose Status: No action. This bill was voted on and passed out of the Prince George’s County delegation and had a hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 30. The worst provisions of this bill are in amendments made by members of the Prince George’s County delegation when they approved the bill. Sometimes no action is the best action. One way that CBF and our partners protect our natural resources is by making sure bad pieces of legislation never move. We anticipate that we will be much more active in the coming year in proactively working to help ensure that Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act is implemented more effectively and completely, so look forward to talking more about trees!  
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