Governor O’Malley Announces New Tree Program for Maryland Landowners

Governor Martin O’Malley today announced an exciting new stewardship program to help Marylanders who own one to four acres of land convert unused lawn to forest cover at no cost. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service and the Arbor Day Foundation have partnered to launch Lawn to Woodland, which will kick off as a pilot in select central counties this spring.

“Healthy forests are our greatest defense when it comes to improving air and water quality, and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are disrupting our climate,” said Governor O’Malley.  “Our new Lawn to Woodland program will provide landowners with trees, tools and technical assistance for planting and maintaining a healthy tree canopy that will support a myriad of environmental, economic and recreational benefits for a smarter, greener, more sustainable Maryland.”

The program will be piloted this spring to eligible Arbor Day Foundation members in Baltimore, Carroll, Montgomery and Howard counties, because these areas contain the most unused lawn. Later this month, these landowners will receive information by mail about the many benefits of the program and how to enroll. The opportunity will be expanded first to non-Arbor Day Foundation members in these counties, and later to eligible landowners statewide in subsequent planting seasons.

In addition to free trees, program participants will receive expert advice, planting and monitoring assistance for their new woodland from the DNR Forest Service at no cost.  The Maryland Department of Transportation has provided $500,000 from its mitigation requirement reserves to fund the launch.

“With the amount of turf acreage in Maryland increasing, this is the ideal time to launch this program,” said Steve Koehn, director of DNR Forest Service. “By planting trees, landowners can reduce the time they spend mowing, lower energy costs, and create sound and visual buffers on their property. I hope many qualifying landowners will take advantage of this opportunity that will benefit not just their personal properties, but the entire State.”

Lawn to Woodland supports Maryland’s Forest Preservation Act of 2013, legislation that ensures the State maintains its current level of tree cover ─ 40 percent. This first of its kind legislation signed into law by Governor O’Malley last May, establishes new and expanded reforestation incentives and tools to help landowners and local governments meet and surpass the statewide goal.

“Converting turf to trees in rural and suburban areas can make an enormous difference in the quality of the land, the water resources and the lives of people in Maryland,” said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Natural woodlands are a hallmark of the Maryland landscape and this innovative DNR Forest Service program provides wonderful support for people to take an active part in preserving that heritage.”

In July 2013, Governor O’Malley released Maryland’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland has become a national pioneer in sustainability practices.  Over the past four years, citizens have planted more than 100,000 trees through his Marylanders Plant Trees program, and Maryland inmates have planted more than one million trees on public lands through the Forest Brigade. All Maryland State forests have also received dual certification, recognizing the State’s commitment to sustainable forestry practices and the green jobs the forest industry supports. It is initiatives and efforts such as these that earned Governor O’Malley the Arbor Day Foundation’s first ever Vision Award in 2012.

To qualify, citizens must own one to four acres of land. Landowners who would like to learn more and join the program when it becomes available in their area should or call 888-448-7337.

News announcement by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.