Developers’ opportunities to meet forest mitigation requirements appear to have narrowed.

Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General, has issued an opinion concluding that acquisition of credits in a “forest retention bank” that preserves existing forest does not qualify as a mitigation under the Forest Conservation Act. According to the opinion, to qualify for mitigation, forest banks must have been intentionally planted or restored expressly for the purpose of providing credits as opposed to preserving existing forest. 

Some counties have accepted the use of forest retention banks to offset forest clearing on development sites, although at higher mitigation ratios.    

In response to the Attorney General’s opinion, Montgomery County has suspended the use of forest retention banks for mitigation. In 2019, the Anne Arundel County Attorney provided similar advice to the Attorney General’s opinion and the practice was excluded as part of revisions to the county forest conservation law.