Frederick Co., MD’s “No Net Loss” Forest Legislation Brings Changes for Land Development

The Frederick County (Maryland) Council recently passed two bills in a move to ensure “no net loss” of forest and to protect more mature forests and existing environmental resources from future development – Bill 20-08 on July 21, 2020 and Bill 20-07 on August 4, 2020.  The changes will require a minimum of 1:1 replacement for any forest clearing as well as reduce net density on many properties.  Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI) has reviewed the new laws; read on for details about how these changes will impact your projects.

Frederick Co., MD’s new tree policies are changing land development in the county

What’s Changing?

More resource protection brings development constraints

Bill 20-07 establishes a stronger focus on the avoidance and protection of sensitive environmental resources, and adds constraints to the development density and dwelling types.   The calculation of a development project’s net density will now exclude the following environmentally sensitive areas which are restricted from development (by either Maryland Department of the Environment, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, or Frederick County):

  • FEMA floodplain boundaries, including the 25-foot floodplain buffer
  • Priority forest conservation and forestation areas
  • Jurisdictional wetland boundaries and 25-foot buffers
  • Hydrography, including perennial and intermittent streams and stream body buffer setbacks
  • Steep slopes (25% or greater) associated with hydrological features and/or erodible soils.

Increased Reforestation Requirements

Bill 20-08 requires a minimum of 1:1 replacement for forest clearing, and mandates applicants must evaluate options using two methods, then provide the greater of the two reforestation amounts calculated.  The methods are:

  • 1:1 replacement such that for every one acre of forest removed, one acre must be planted;


  • ¼:1 replacement for forest cleared above the County conservation threshold and 2:1 for forest cleared below the conservation threshold. (this is the standard method)

When Is This Happening?

Bill 20-07 will be effective on October 3, and Bill 20-08 was effective on September 19.

What Does This Mean for My Project?

WSSI can help you understand the implications of these new laws for your Frederick County projects. Contact Mike Klebasko or Scott Petrey in our Millersville, Maryland office for more information.


  • Mike Klebasko

    Millersville, MD

  • Scott Petrey

    Millersville, MD