Legislative Bulletin February 16, 2023 – Action AlertThursday, February 16, 2023 - 01:13pm
Oppose: Bill to eliminate local authority to retain trees on land that is not intended to be reforested artificially or naturally
HB2282 (Edmunds) will receive a final vote on the floor of the Senate tomorrow morning (Friday, Feb. 17)
HB2282 (Edmunds) – Virginia Stormwater Management Program; Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Program; exemptions for the harvesting of forest crops. Creates a new exemption from stormwater rules and regulations for the clearing of trees, grading or removal of stumps, clearing of land or the creation of temporary roads for the removal of forest products.
VML opposes this bill to limit local authority to maintain local water quality and preserve existing trees; there is concern that this could apply to speculative land clearing. Localities should have the opportunity to work with landowners to protect local water quality and retain trees prior to any clearing and cutting. Allowing removal of trees from property that could be redeveloped without controlling for erosion could degrade local water quality and increase sediment and nutrient runoff. In addition to protecting local water quality, localities may have reasons to retain existing trees, such as screening or reducing the visibility of projects or retaining tree canopy.
When a developer seeks to clear trees they must currently notify the locality, providing a critical opportunity to determine how trees can be removed without degrading local water quality and identifying if any existing trees should be maintained.
Aside from water quality, localities across Virginia have worked with developers to retain existing trees for a variety of reasons including as a best management practice to reduce stormwater and nutrient runoff, to create a natural screen to reduce the visibility of industrial or solar developments, to maintain tree canopy, to prevent the erosion of stream and riverbanks, or to preserve trees to reduce the impacts of storm surges in coastal areas.
- create a new exemption from stormwater regulations for development.
- not affect any agricultural lands which currently have an exemption for clearing trees as part of forest management or converting a forested area to agricultural pasture.
- result in more trees being removed before a property owner initiates the process while exempting the clearing of trees from complying with erosion and sediment control requirements.
- undermine local authority to protect local water quality and remove any opportunity to work with developers to maintain existing trees.
- Please contact your Senator and ask them to vote “NO” on HB2282.
- Full contact list for Senators available here >.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, firstname.lastname@example.org