(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is strongly supporting an Anne Arundel County bill that is designed to reduce the county’s significant forest loss.
Multiple studies have determined the extent of the county’s forest and tree cover loss. Recently released Chesapeake Conservancy datathat examined detailed satellite photos found the county lost about 2,500 acres of urban and rural tree canopy from 2013 to 2017. Most of those trees were cut on private land, refuting the claim that state and federal projects are driving tree loss in the county.
According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, the county led the state in forest loss and lost more acres of forest than Prince George’s, Calvert, Howard, and Baltimore counties combined from 2010 to 2017.
The legislation in front of the Anne Arundel County Council, Bill 68-19, aims to correct this long-term problem by incentivizing developers to conserve more trees at project sites. It also increases fees and fines for cutting trees in violation of the law or for failing to plant required trees and vegetation near streams and other priority areas. The council will hear public testimony on the bill Monday night and will likely vote on it sometime in the next month.
Trees are among the best natural filters. They soak up pollutants in water runoff, sequester carbon, purify the air, and provide habitat for animals and recreation for local residents. They also prevent erosion, reduce flooding, and increase the property values of nearby homes.
Protecting and expanding forests is necessary for Maryland to reach its 2025 Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals. The state’s Clean Water Blueprint, or watershed implementation plan, notes, "Slowing, and ideally reversing forest loss, is imperative to sustaining the health of Maryland’s local waters and the Chesapeake Bay."
CBF’s Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost issued the following statement:
"Anne Arundel County has lost far too much forest and this must end. This bill presents an opportunity to slow down sprawl development and ensure that local growth protects our forests. Our county’s trees provide free environmental services. They clean our water, preserve our shorelines, and purify our air.
"We will watch closely to make sure any amendments don’t limit the effectiveness of the legislation."