ELLICOTT CITY, MD – In honor of Arbor Day, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced a new partnership between Howard County Government and the Maryland Department of Nature Resources (DNR) to massively expand Howard County’s tree canopy. In his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget, Ball has included $230,000 in funding to support DNR’s efforts to plant 32,800 trees on roughly 82 acres of state land in Howard County. This project will be the and the largest planting - of any kind - ever in Howard County. These trees will support the health of both the Patuxent and Patapsco watersheds, which contribute to quality of life and sustain the Chesapeake Bay. Photos of the event can be seen here

Last year, Governor Moore rolled out Maryland’s 5 Million Trees Initiative to meet the goals of the 2021 ‘Tree Solutions Now Act.' In Howard County, we are committed to doing our part to plant one native tree for each of our residents by 2031 and this monumental new partnership with DNR will dramatically accelerate our tree planting efforts to achieve that goal. Through this “tree”mendous initiative and other tree planting programs, we are ensuring Howard County remains the best place to live, work, play, GROW and thrive for all for many years to come.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

Maryland's '5 Million Trees' initiative is an incredible commitment from our state government to safeguard our communities, conserve our natural heritage, and bolster our economy in the face of uncertainty from a changing climate. Accomplishing this shared goal simply isn't possible without the coordinated efforts and partnership of a wide range of landowners and stakeholders across the state. I'd like to commend the County Executive's leadership here today in taking this bold step towards a more vibrant and climate-resilient place to live for not just the county's residents, but for all Marylanders.

Justin Bowers
Deputy Director, Maryland Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Since Ball took office as County Executive in December 2018, Howard County has taken numerous steps towards protecting and expanding Howard County’s tree canopy. In 2019, Ball unveiled major updates to Howard County’s Forest Conservation Act, modernizing it and making it the strongest forest conservation law in the state. Also in 2019, Ball launched the County’s Annual Tree Giveaway, which gives away free native trees to residents each fall. In 2022, his administration launched the County’s “Trees for Bees” pollinator giveaway program. Part of the County’s Office of Community Sustainability’s Howard County Bee City initiative, Trees for Bees offers residents and non-profit groups native tree species that are beneficial to pollinators to plant. Across its programs, Howard County has given away over 43,000 trees and shrubs to residents and organizations since FY2019.

“If we’re going to solve the climate crisis, we need all of us to step up.  We have to work in with each other through a whole-of-community effort.  Today is a great example of the power of partnerships to deliver real, on-the-ground solutions harnessing the power of Mother Nature,” said Tim Lattimer, Administrator, Office of Community Sustainability.

When combined with the County’s Department of Recreation & Parks’ Natural Resources Division’s Tree Canopy Program, Turf to Trees Program, Stream ReLeaf Program, volunteer tree plantings and more, the County has planted more than 80,000 trees under Ball’s administration. 

“With County Executive Ball’s leadership and the assistance of our public and private partners to implement a variety of tree programs, the Department of Recreation & Parks is confident the County will achieve its 50 percent tree canopy cover by 2030 goal and sustain its Tree City USA designation for another 34 years,” said Nick Mooneyhan, Director, Department of Recreation & Parks.

These bold programs, in addition to today’s partnership announcement, are a gigantic step forward towards achieving the County’s bold goal of a 50 percent tree canopy cover by 2030. This 50 percent tree canopy objective is an important strategy to meet the ambitious goals of the County’s Howard County (HoCo) Climate Forward: Climate Action and Resiliency Plan.

In addition to the $230,000 allocated to DNR, Ball’s proposed FY25 budget also includes $1 million for Private Forest Conservation Easements and Partnerships, in addition to more than $300,000 for the County’s tree planting programs. Additionally, in the coming fiscal year, the County will be increasing its promotion of its “Tree Savers” invasive species management programs. This will include volunteer training and outreach to help residents identify and remove vegetation that threatens healthy tree growth. These investments will allow for the preservation and protection of the county’s existing tree canopy, in addition to growing the tree cover.

“Trees are, in my opinion, the best living organisms we have on the planet. They absorb some of the excess carbon dioxide we're emitting, help capture the excess rain we're getting, and help to keep our communities cooler during heat waves.  As such, trees are an essential climate solution,” said Kim Pezza, Chair, Environmental Sustainability Board.

Along with increasing the County’s tree canopy, Ball is also taking steps to preserve open green space. In 2022, he launched of the County’s Purchased Conservation Easement pilot program in partnership with the Howard County Conservancy. Since its inception, the program has permanently preserved more than 70 acres of environmentally sensitive non-profit owned land. This year, in his proposed FY25 budget, Ball has included another $1 million in funding towards this program to protect even more land from development. 
Ball’s proposed FY25 Operating Budget also includes $3 million to purchase and “bank” land, supporting the County’s climate goals by protecting green space, streams, wetlands and forests.

“At Howard County EcoWorks, we are stalwart champions of maintenance – maintenance of stream channels, stream restorations, our gardens, our forests and trees. In our partnership with Howard County Government, we are able to emphasize not just new projects, but also maintenance, in our work and programs. The Students Branching Out tree plantings have brought restoration and the benefits of trees to the doors of students in elementary, middle and high schools across Howard County since 2013,” said Lori Lilly, Executive Director, Howard County EcoWorks.

In celebration of Arbor Day and to mark Howard County’s 2024 designation as a “Tree City USA,” Ball also today joined Dayton Oaks Elementary School Principal Adrienne Williams-McKinney, staff and students to plant 70 new trees as part of the County’s Students Branching Out program. This program engages Howard County students in local tree planting efforts each spring and fall. To date, more than 6,500 trees have been planted with the help thousands of Howard County students.

“This is a wonderful activity for our 5th grade students that highlights our school and our shared commitment to the environment. We look forward to watching the trees grow in the coming years,” said Adrienne Williams-McKinney, Principal, Dayton Oaks Elementary School.

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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