County Council Passes Legislation to Expand Tree Canopy Conservation

Per Montgomery County:
“The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously today to enact legislation, introduced by Council President Andrew Friedson and Councilmember Evan Glass, that will update the laws regarding the tree canopy and roadside tree work to encourage the conservation of trees in Montgomery County.

Bill 40-23, Tree Canopy and Roadside Tree Requirements – Fee Revisions, adjusts the fee structure for trees removed in the County’s right of way to ensure the fees are commensurate with the costs, including the environmental cost of removing the tree and the cost of tree planting and maintenance. It also adjusts the fee sediment control permittees pay to the County’s Tree Canopy Conservation Account to reflect planting and maintenance costs.

“Enhancing our tree canopy is a necessary step in meeting our environmental goals and strengthening community resiliency,” Council President Friedson said. “Adjusting the fee structure will help us plant more trees in our neighborhoods, improving air quality, reducing heat islands and enhancing quality of life.”

“Our trees are among our most important natural assets. Trees reduce storm water runoff, provide shelter for wildlife and support our environmental goals by naturally keeping our homes cooler,” said Councilmember Glass, chair of the Transportation and Environment Committee. “By preserving and enhancing our tree canopy, we are ensuring an environmentally sustainable quality of life for today’s residents and future generations.”

Trees are one of the most important natural resources and one of the few truly renewable resources. Tree canopies play a pivotal role in enhancing quality of life and contributing to the well-being of residents. A thriving tree canopy reduces air, water and noise pollution, alleviates heat stress and reduces heat islands, and positively impacts human health, among other benefits. Protecting the tree canopy will help mitigate climate effects and help Montgomery County reach its ambitious climate goals.

The legislation sets the fee payable to the Street Tree Planting Fund at $450 per tree and the fee payable to the Tree Canopy Conservation Account at $470 per tree, both with biannual increases based on inflation. The adjusted fee structure is expected to be implemented at the end of April, with the effective date established 91 days after the bill is signed into law.

Under current law, a permittee who removes a tree in the County’s right of way generally must pay a fee into the Street Tree Planting Fund maintained by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). Similarly, an applicant for a sediment control permit generally must pay a fee into the Tree Canopy Conservation Account. The fee in place until the effective date of Bill 40-23 was established in 2013 at $250 per tree and no longer sufficiently reflects the cost of acquiring, planting and maintaining a tree and did not rise with inflation.

All Councilmembers cosponsored this legislation. View the legislation and Council staff report here.

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