After holding three public hearings, debating more than 40 proposed amendments, and hearing approximately 10 hours of total public testimony and deliberation, the Anne Arundel County Council voted unanimously to pass County Executive Steuart Pittman’s forest conservation bill, #68-19.
“For decades, it’s been too easy to cut down forests in Anne Arundel County, but that changed tonight,” said County Executive Pittman. “This bill moves Anne Arundel County from the state leader in forest loss to the state leader in forest protection. I’m pleased the Council agreed and passed it unanimously. That’s good news for our waterways, our wildlife, and our future generations.”
The legislation consists of several key provisions that enhance the county’s existing protections for forests:
● Increases the “conservation thresholds” that determine how much forest must be preserved on a construction site;
● Adds protections for contiguous forests of 75 acres or more;
● Doubles tree replanting requirements;
● Triples the base fee-in-lieu of replanting from $0.40 to $1.25 per square foot within growth areas, and from $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot outside of growth areas; and
● Brings county code into compliance with the most recent state forest conservation code.
The legislation enjoys broad, bipartisan support among Anne Arundel County residents, according to a recent public opinion poll. In October, an Opinionworks poll found that 81 percent of respondents supported a stronger forest conservation law, in a survey of 539 registered voters by Arundel Rivers Federation.