What happened to the trees? An update from the Maryland Legislative Session

Have you been writing postcards and emails to your legislators this Maryland General Assembly Session? Have you made last-minute phone calls asking for #MoreTreesPlease? Perhaps you joined us on the Butterfly Bus to ride to Annapolis and Rally Your Reps to improve the Forest Conservation Act? Thank you!

But sadly, despite all your hard work, the bill to help reverse our forest loss did not pass, on the very last day of the legislative session. There were a series of maneuvers that began when the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee (EHEA) PASSED the bill in a strong form–where it would have increased the ratio of new trees that developers would have been required to plant for every tree in “priority forest” they cut down–but then unfortunately that strong bill could not pass the full Senate. The Senate instead passed a version that would have created a task force of analysts, environmental community members, developers, and foresters to all work together and propose improved language for next year. We continued to support that bill, but when it went to the House, the Environment Committee watered it down to a bill that would have just “studied” the issue and weakened the task force concept. Then, the Senate did not support the watered-down study bill and chose not to pass it on April 9th, the last day of the session.

And when I said despite all your hard work, I meant it! Your voices joined a huge coalition of environmental advocates and individual concerned citizens from around the state, from dozens of environmental and civic organizations.

Unfortunately, this year the developers won, and overall this year’s legislative session was not that great for the environment overall (with a few bright spots on climate and renewable energy; click here to read a full wrap-up from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters). But, we won’t give up, on bills to conserve our forests, increase renewable energy, ban foam containers and synthetic turf, and more. We know it can take years to sway hearts and minds, but that a little bit of progress provides the base for much, much more. Thank you to all our ANS members, friends, and supporters for all you do. And, we’ll try again next year! Our forests need us to Speak for the Trees, and I know you won’t stop doing it!

About Eliza Cava

Eliza Cava is the ANS Director of Conservation, where she leads our MD & DC policy, advocacy, and conservation outreach work, supervises our citizen science programs and VA advocacy work, and supports Woodend restoration as a demonstration landscape for the region.
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