Natural Resource Conservation Fund Favorable for Counties

On March 1, 2022, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee in support of SB 651 – Natural Resources – Forest Mitigation Banks and the Forest Conservation Fund – Alterations. The bill would modify certain aspects of the Forest Conservation Fund to give counties more time to use the resources distributed under the program.

From the MACo testimony

SB 651 would serve to strengthen the Forest Conservation Fund in several ways. The primary benefits would be the extension of timeframes by which local jurisdictions can use forest conservation funds for reforestation or afforestation and the restoration of the ability for counties to use the forest banking as a mitigation measure. The bill also removes a December 2020 deadline for approval of forest conservation plans; while also temporarily preserving the practice of forest banking until the completion of the Harry R. Hughes Center’s study slated for December 2023.

MACo has engaged with the sponsor and other organizations regarding proposed amendments that will ensure counties can use forest mitigation banks in the future while also securing significant forest protections that are necessary for many counties’ climate and stormwater goals. Counties support these potential multi-party amendments should the Committee choose to pursue a compromise approach.

MACo testified on the bill’s crossfile, HB 960, on March 2, 2022.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2022 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.
Learn more about MACo’s 2022 Legislative Initiatives.
Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog.