Community Reforestation Program
Development projects in Baltimore County must comply with the Forest Conservation Act, enacted by the County Council in 1992 as required by the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991. For some projects, developers are permitted to pay a fee in lieu of mitigation for required reforestation. The Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) uses these fees to reforest open lands being committed by agencies to return to forest cover, including State and County lands. A similar fee in lieu of mitigation is derived from implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Act.
A four person reforestation crew works year round to plant, monitor, and maintain reforestation projects and to manage a small tree nursery that helps provide a variety of tree species and sizes. More than 180 acres have been planted since inception of the program in both urban and rural areas of the County.
In addition to planting public lands, EPS is able to reforest private lands where the landowner is willing to record an easement in the Land Records reserving the area for forest cover in perpetuity, as well as willingness to approve an Entry Agreement allowing EPS staff to enter the property, with notification of the landowner, for the purpose of planting, monitoring, and maintaining the reforestation area.
All costs of equipment, reforestation materials, and labor are paid for by the developers’ mitigation fund. Landowners interested in becoming a candidate for reforestation should call EPS at 410-887-3733.
The Reforestation Nursery
The majority of the trees grown and planted through the Community Reforestation Program (CRP) are oak species. Oaks represent the native colonial flora of the Maryland Piedmont and portions of the Coastal Plain. They are perfectly adapted to a variety of environmental conditions within the temperate climate of the Mid Atlantic, and they support an abundance of wildlife. Dr. Douglas Tallamy writes in Bringing Nature Home that “oaks are the quintessential wildlife plants: no other genus supports more species of Lepidoptera, thus providing more types of bird food, than the mighty oak” (2007).
Other species raised at the nursery include White pine, Pitch pine, Red maple, Sugar maple, Eastern redbud, Paw paw, Winterberry holly, and River birch.
Reforestation Process and Sites
The CRP crew plants one, two and three gallon containerized trees at a variety of sites throughout Baltimore County. Where sites are flatter and open, trees are planted using a tractor with hardwood seedling planter once the site is prepared with a sod-scalper and sub-soiler. Planting on steeper sites and re-enforcement planting at older reforestation sites is done manually. More than 30 sites range in size from a quarter of an acre to over 20 acres. They include parks (Oregon Ridge, Eastern Regional, Northwest Regional), old farm and pasture lands (Overton, Foxhall Farm, Fitzhugh Run), reclaimed mining operations (Jones Road), and other community areas (Claybrooke subdivision, Mount Olive cemetery).
Trees are chosen to suit the particular conditions present at each site. Once the plan is developed, the trees are installed and protected from wildlife disturbances with staked tree shelters and bird exclusion nets. Each site is regularly monitored and maintained, with typical upkeep including vine and invasive species removal, stake and shelter readjustment, tree infill, and mowing.
Revised July 23, 2015