The Worcester County Forest Conservation Law was enacted under the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991, requiring all county governments to adopt local forest conservation programs.
What is the purpose of the Forest Conservation Program?
The purpose of the Forest Conservation Program is to preserve, protect, and establish forest areas in conjunction with certain land development activities. Forest areas now play an important role in the site planning of development projects, which in no way discourages or prevents development from occurring.
Why is forest conservation important?
Forest areas are vital to the natural environment and to the quality of life of every citizen. The numerous benefits of trees and forests include:
- Preventing rapid soil erosion
- Filtering harsh chemicals and pollutants from the air and soil to provide safer drinking water and
- Cleaner streams, lakes, and bays
- Providing recreational areas
- Increasing the values of homes and property
What activities are regulated by the Forest Conservation Law?
Activities that require an application for any public or private subdivision plan, site plan approval, or grading and sediment control permit on areas 40,000 square feet or greater must comply with the Forest Conservation Law.
What activities are exempt from the Forest Conservation Law?
- State highway construction activities
- Activities on areas located in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas
- Aricultural activities
- Commercial logging and timber harvesting operations
- Clearing for public utility construction or rights-of-way
- Routine maintenance and emergency repairs of public utility rights-of-way
- Surface mining regulated under State law
- Activities conducted on a single lot where less than 40,000 square feet of forest is disturbed
- Preliminary plan of subdivision or grading and sediment control permit approved before 7/1/91 or minor subdivision application for which a perc application was submitted prior to 7/1/91
- PUD with Step 1 approval prior to 12/31/91
- Subdivision for agricultural purposes only
- Subdivision for conservation purposes only
- Boundary line adjustment providing no accompanying change in land use
- Subdivision where the area of non-tidal wetland forest is greater than or equal to area of a/reforestation required
- Construction and maintenance of water and sewage treatment facilities or landfills
- Construction of linear utilities
- County road construction
- Cutting of trees for surveying purposes
- Habitat programs approved by a government agency
- Intrafamily transfers, including subdivision
What is required in order to comply with the Forest Conservation Law?
Any non-exempt activity that requires an application for major subdivision, site plan approval, or grading and sediment control permit on an area of land 40,000 square feet or greater must submit a Forest Stand Delineation and a Forest Conservation Plan. In the case of a non-exempt minor subdivision on an area of land 40,000 square feet or greater, a Simplified Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Conservation Plan shall be submitted.
What are Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Conservation Plans?
Forest Stand Delineation's (FSD) are drafted to show the existing forest cover and environmental features of a site planned for development. It is submitted at the initial stages of subdivision or site plan approval, or before a grading or sediment control permit application is submitted. Once approved, the information in a FSD is used to prepare the Forest Conservation Plan (FCP).
The FCP is a detailed plan of the proposed project site that outlines the areas of forest conservation required and the proposed areas of forest retention, afforestation, and reforestation. The FCP is submitted with the first applications for development plan approval of a preliminary subdivision plan, a site development plan or an application for grading or sediment control permit.
The Simplified Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Conservation Plan is for minor subdivision applications only. It is to be submitted with the minor subdivision plat application and shall be incorporated within the minor subdivision plat.
The State Forest Conservation Manual contains the guidelines for the preparation of the Forest Stand Delineations and Forest Conservation Plans, which must be prepared by a qualified professional. To receive a copy of the Manual or a list of qualified professionals, please contact the Worcester County Forest Conservation Program
What if I have additional questions?
Please contact Jenelle Gerthoffer at 410-632-1220 ext. 1147 for additional information regarding Forest Conservation.