|Action||Amendment to incorporate additional requirements related to preservation of mature trees and replanting of trees into existing criteria.|
|Comment Period||Ends 5/3/2021|
9VAC25-830 Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations; Amending 9VAC25-830-130 as follows underlined:
“Through their applicable land use ordinances, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms, local governments shall require that any use, development, or redevelopment of land in Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas meets the following performance criteria:
1. No more land shall be disturbed than is necessary to provide for the proposed use or development.
2. Indigenous vegetation shall be preserved to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with the use or development proposed. Mature trees shall only be removed where determined to be necessary to provide for the proposed use or development and protected during development to the maximum extent practicable. “
Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (FACS) believes the tree preservation language must be more concrete. That should include, but not be limited to, a better definition of “what is necessary” in #1 and should including a practical definition of “mature trees” in #2. There should be specific parameters for what constitutes a “healthy” tree, and there should be language that empowers localities to “require” tree preservation. Overstory and understory trees of all sizes together make a forested area that can provide the best front-line resiliency to plans that will mitigate flooding both from sea level rise or from stormwater runoff in RPAs. To further promote tree preservation, the regulations should include an absolute prohibition on any tree removal in the RPA purely for viewshed or sightline purposes, provide localities the ability to incentivize the preservation of trees in any planning and development, and the authority to enforce these provisions. There will certainly be a cost to developers and landowners, but that will be significantly smaller than the costs of insuring properties or rebuilding after damages occur.
Comment on the newly added 9VAC25-830-155: Climate change resilience and adaptation criteria.
We should make sure that nature-based solutions—including maintaining vegetated buffers and building living shorelines which include both preserving existing healthy, mature trees and planting new ones—are prioritized in the updated Bay Act regulations. The use of fill in these solutions should be strictly prohibited, and instead natural BMPs should be prioritized in this section.
FACS believes this is a seminal moment in the recalibration of the Chesapeake Bay Management Area requirements. DEQ can and should be more specific in elevating the importance of trees in this work.