The Virginia Conservation Network and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are urging Virginians to take action quickly to support their efforts to enact legislation that will enhance the ability of local jurisdictions to preserve and grow their tree canopies.
The Virginia Conservation Network is urging citizens to support HB 2042, a new tree bill being introduced by Delegate Nancy Guy and three others in the Virginia legislature. Unlike with the U.S. Congress, it is permissible to lobby representatives who are not from your district. A list of relevant delegates, their emails, and possible talking points is provided below.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging Virginia legislators in general to “Provide additional authority to localities to conserve and enhance Virginia’s dwindling tree canopy”. In this abbreviated session, legislators will need to hear from you immediately and directly about the importance of trees. Contact your local representatives and let them know you care about this issue. To learn more go to the CBF blog.
Please make your voice heard today!
Talking points from the Virginia Conservation Network:
Reasons to support HB 2042: The current statute limits localities’ authority to preserve and conserve their tree canopies. This bill enhances their ability to increase their tree canopies in several specific circumstances: (i) to generate pollution reduction credits through installation of an approved Urban Tree Canopy Expansion best management practice (BMP) or other approved BMP for compliance with the locality’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit; (ii) to help address local flooding in any development project located in a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area; (iii) in any development project located in an area that prior to the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., was redlined or graded “D” by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation; and (iv) to ensure conformity with the comprehensive plan adopted by the locality.
Overview: Virginia limits the percentage of trees that local governments can require developers to replace or conserve in the process of development. Depending on zoning, those caps range from 10-30%. HB2042 enables localities to adopt higher replacement percentages where trees are used to meet water quality, flooding management, and equity goals.
The bill also expands statewide the applicability of the tree preservation statute, Va. Code 15.2-961.1. The provisions in this statute allow local governments to establish a tree fund or tree bank, providing offsite options for developers unable to achieve the canopy replacement percentages onsite. Tree fund fees collected can be used to plant trees on municipal property or support non-profits conservation groups in planting trees on private property.
Virginia is losing 16,000 acres of trees per year to development and disease. Their loss removes their ability to capture carbon and harmful particulates, reduce flooding, provide habitat, improve water quality and quality of life.