(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost issued this statement following the Prince George's County delegation meeting today. At that meeting, a majority of the delegation voted to significantly weaken forest protection laws in Prince George's County.
At issue is PG/MC 114-16/HB1197, which would exempt specific Prince George's development projects from the Forest Conservation Act, a state law to help protect priority forests during development. This bill would also allow a developer to "take credit" for existing forest that is already protected, meaning the developer who clears forests will have fewer mitigation requirements. The bill will now move to the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
"This legislation puts a developer's economic gain above the needs of the community. Protecting existing tree cover and requiring replacement of trees that are cut down are essential to the protection of local rivers and streams, as well as the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, trees improve the quality of life and provide important economic benefits for local communities.
"Prince George's County already has the highest deforestation levels in the state. The delegation should be protecting our forest resources, not encouraging developers to cut them down. We urge the delegation to reconsider this vote."