As a member of the Multi-Faith Alliance of Climate Stewards of Frederick County, I support proposed Frederick County Bills #20-07 and #20-08, to protect existing forests and ensure replacement of those lost to development.
Last year, the MACS congregations worked with Streamlink Education to plant 1,000 trees. Why? Because we understand that trees build forests.
Forests provide cooling shade, complex habitats for wildlife, and mental health refuges for our fellow humans. Forests provide buffers for streams, filter runoff, and mitigate flooding. Forests sequester carbon from the air and filter out pollutants.
So, as people of faith, we planted trees — a tangible way of caring for each other and the Earth. Planting trees is important, but not enough. We also need to protect existing forests. Without the proposed changes to our Zoning and Forest Resource Ordinances, we will continue to lose 70 acres of forest per year to development.
Surprisingly, in most cases, developers are required only to replace one acre for every four acres they remove. When we lose forests, we lose all their ecosystem services, and we lose them forever — at least for the many decades it takes to replace a functioning network of mature trees. We have a chance to change that dynamic.
The County Council will be voting on forest conservation amendments soon. Bills 20-07 and 20-08 extend upfront protection for forests, especially near waterways, on steep slopes, or in wetland areas. Before a project is approved, protection of the forested areas must be considered. Then for every acre of forest removed, another acre must be planted, resulting in no net loss of forests due to development in Frederick County.
We are not asking that all development be halted. We are asking for protection of one of our most valuable natural resources during the planning and development process. MACS asks you to join us in supporting these two pieces of forest protection legislation. Please write a letter or email to your County Council representatives and ask for their support. With limited opportunities to respond during COVID-19 restrictions, your letters are especially important.