Learn more about the Green Infrastructure Network, Forest Conservation, Green Neighborhoods and Watershed Planning.
Live Green Howard
Live Green Howard is Howard County’s depot for all things green!
Explore the different tracks of information available and help us make Howard County greener, healthier and a true sustainable community.
Susan Overstreet | 410-313-4345
Green Infrastructure is a network of interconnected waterways, wetlands, forest, meadows, and other natural areas. This infrastructure helps support native plant and animal species, maintain natural ecological processes, sustain air and water resources, and contribute to the health and quality of life for communities.
Howard County's Green Infrastructure Network consists of hubs (large, natural areas) and connecting corridors that often follow rivers and streams.
The Department is moving forward with implementation priorities defined in the Green Infrastructure Network Plan, including developing habitat management plans for the hubs and corridors. The habitat management plans include information on existing conditions and recommendations for landowners who would like to maintain or improve the habitat on their property.
The Howard County Forest Conservation Act works to protect and maintain forest vegetation and forest areas in Howard County by requiring certain development projects to have an approved Forest Conservation Plan as a condition of approval for the development. These requirements are pursuant to the requirements of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991.
For more information on the Howard County Forest Conservation Program, please contact the Department of Planning and Zoning, Division of Land Development Planner-of-the-Day at (410) 313-2350.
On February 3, 2021 the County Council adopted CR12-2021, an update to the Howard County Forest Conservation Manual. This update of the Manual complies with recent major updates to the County Forest Conservation Act, reflects current policies and procedures for implementing the Act, and provides guidance for better protection of forest resources and more successful forest plantings. The Department of Planning and Zoning testimony on CR12-2021 provides a summary of key changes to the Manual.
Video - What is Howard County's Forest Conservation Program?
This video provides an overview of Howard County’s Forest Conservation Program. The purpose and goal of the program is to protect and preserve forest in Howard County by promoting environmentally sensitive design during the subdivision and land development process. The video stresses the importance of educating the community residents about the forest program to ensure the long term protection, preservation and maintenance of our forest resources in the County.
Video - How Can You Help Protect Our Forest Resources?
The primary purpose of this video is to help educate the public about the need to avoid certain activities that may destroy or degrade protected forest resources located in their community. Some of the permitted and non-permitted uses within forest conservation easements are highlighted in this video. The video asks for the community’s help in our mission as the guardians of the public’s trust in protecting the County’s valuable forest resources for future generations.
Educational Guides for Forest Conservation Areas Located:
Within Public Easements, HOA or County owned Open Space or Preservation Parcels
Maryland Forest Service
The Forest Service restores, manages, and protects Maryland’s trees, forests, and forested ecosystems to sustain our natural resources and connect people to the land. For more information on forestry education and facts, please visit the Maryland Forest Service Home Page.
Regulations | Manual
The Howard County Forest Conservation Regulations are pursuant to the requirements of the Maryland Forest Conservation Act of 1991, which requires units of local government to adopt a local Forest Conservation Program that meets the requirements of the Natural Resources Article, Section 5-1601 through 5-1613 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
The Howard County Forest Conservation Manual implements the Howard County Forest Conservation Act.
For more information on the State of Maryland Forest Conservation Act, please see the Department of Natural Resources Forest Conservation Act Web Page.
The Natural Resources Division of the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks performs all inspections and enforcement of post-development forest conservation easements in Howard County. Inspections are conducted to verify forest conservation easements are in compliance with project-specific requirements during the development phase and enforce restrictions on certain types of activities and land use within easements after development is complete. For further information, please visit the Department of Recreation and Parks Enforcement Web Page.
The Howard County General Mitigation Plan identifies appropriate and potentially available areas for forest conservation mitigation projects.
The Forest Conservation Accounting Procedures detail how in-lieu fees are tracked and spent by the County.
Susan Overstreet | 410-313-4345
Green Neighborhoods is a voluntary program that uses housing allocations as an incentive to encourage development that conserves and protects natural resources, while providing sustainable communities that are energy and water efficient. The Green Neighborhoods Program consists of a Sites and a Homes component.
The following are supplementary documents referenced in the Green Neighborhood Guidance Document for Sites:
Green Neighborhood Checklist
Green Neighborhood Site Compliance Checklist
Project Description Form
Habitat Management Agreement
Native Plant List
Invasive Exotic Plant List
Template A-4 a-d: Innovative Design
Template G-1: Light Pollution Reduction
Template H-1: Environmentally Preferable Site Products
Template H-2: Reduce Heat-Island Effect of Paving
Template H-4: Regionally Provided Materials
There is also a Green Neighborhood Guidance Document for Homes, which is managed by the Department of Inspection, Licenses and Permits:
For further information, please visit the Green Neighborhoods Web Page of the Department of Inspection, Licenses and Permits.
Please see the below Council Bills and Resolutions related to Forest Conservation.
Watershed-based planning provides the framework to coordinate environmental planning in the County. Watershed planning and management includes all of the activities related to preserving, protecting and restoring the streams, wetlands, forests and other natural resources within a watershed. Howard County lies within the watersheds of two major tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay, the Patuxent and Patapsco Rivers. Approximately three-quarters of the County is within the Patuxent River watershed and the remaining quarter is within the Patapsco River watershed. There are nine major watersheds in the County.
For more studies on Watershed Planning, please see the Department of Public Works Bureau of Environmental Services Stormwater Management Web Page.
Howard County works cooperatively with Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Howard Soil Conservation District, and Montgomery Soil Conservation District to protect the Patuxent Reservoirs watershed. The Rocky Gorge and Triadelphia Reservoirs are a major regional drinking water supply source. Approximately half of the reservoirs watershed lies within Howard County. Watershed protection activities include: water quality monitoring; implementing agricultural best management practices, stormwater retrofits and stream channel restoration; and public outreach and education.
The Baltimore City Reservoirs (Prettyboy, Loch Raven and Liberty) are a major drinking water supply source for the Baltimore region and the primary source of water for the public water supply system in Howard County. The voluntary Baltimore Reservoir Watershed Management Program is coordinated through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, and Howard County contributes financially to this effort. More information is available about this watershed management program through BMC at Reservoir Watershed Management Program.