Last week the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 706, more commonly referred to as the Forest Preservation Act of 2013. State Forester Steve Koehn was integral facilitating the process that provided the General Assembly with the background and information to support the passage of the Forest Preservation Act of 2013.
The bill recognizes that the benefits of forestland and urban tree canopy include raw material for natural resourced based industries, renewable energy, wildlife habitat, climate moderation, higher property values, aesthetics, and recreational opportunities. Retaining and expanding forestland is an essential, cost-effective way to reduce nutrient and greenhouse gas pollution, and help restore local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
House bill 706 provides for forests in the following ways:
- Declaring that achieving a no-net-loss of forest is the policy of the State of Maryland.
- Encouraging the retention of family-owned forests by doubling the income tax credit for forest management activities and expanding the range of activities to include the planting of streamside forests, removing invasive species, and improving wildlife habitat.
- Allowing the State Reforestation Law to support tree planting and forest health management on family-owned forests.
- Ensuring that local Forest Conservation Act fees are used for tree planting and conservation.