Howard County Passes New Forest Conservation Law and Increases Fees In-Lieu For Forest Impacts

Howard County has increased forest protection and the associated fees-in-lieu

Howard County, Maryland has adopted a new Forest Conservation Law, effective February 5, 2020, and increased required fees in-lieu fees for forest impacts, effective immediately.  Council Bill 62-2019 and its amendments include significant changes to the amount of reforestation required, variances, native specimen plantings, and the width of replanted forests.  The key components are summarized below:

Significant Forest Conservation Law Changes

  1. The reforestation threshold increased by 5% for all land use categories except Rural Low Density, for which there is no change.
  2. Reforestation requirements for clearing have changed and are greater when reforestation is not in close proximity to impacted areas (i.e., outside the Maryland 12-digit scale watershed where the impact is made).
  3. Variances must be considered and granted by the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, Office of Community Sustainability, and the Department of Recreation and Parks; Planning Board approval will no longer be required.
  4. When native specimen trees are removed, they must be replaced with at least two native trees, each with a diameter at breast height of 3 or more inches.
  5. Residential developments obligated to provide more than one acre of forest conservation will have to provide at least 75% of that conservation on-site. Previously there was no on-site obligation.
  6. Replanted forests must be at least 50-feet wide under the new regulation, an increase of 15 feet.

The Howard County Council voted 4-1 to approve the bill and amendments on December 2, 2019, and County Executive Calvin Ball signed the bill on December 6.

Increases to Forest Conservation Fees In-Lieu

The Council also voted on December 2 to approve Council Resolution 142-2019 and one amendment, which increases the Forest Conservation Fees-in-Lieu; rates differ for land within the water and sewer Planned Service Area and land outside of it. The Fees-in-Lieu resolution became effective on December 2, 2019.

What does this mean for my projects?

The new Forest Conservation Law will go into effect on February 5, 2020.  The bill does not have any grandfathering provisions in accordance with one of the amendments to the original bill.  If you have questions about what the new Howard County regulations or fees – or the recent changes in Anne Arundel County – mean for your projects, please contact Mike Klebasko in our Millersville, Maryland office.


  • Mike Klebasko

    Millersville, MD