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Forests and Timber Harvests

Timber Harvests

Montgomery Planning has general information about the Forest Conservation Law, which governs timber harvesting operations. 

The County Arborist in the Department of Environmental Protection is required to review timber harvesting operations to grant exemptions from certain requirements of the County's Forest Conservation Law under Section 22A-5(d)(1)(B) of the County Code. The County Code requires that logging or harvesting plans be consistent with County forest management objectives or otherwise appropriate.

Logging and harvesting plans are reviewed for their consistency with widely accepted sustainable forest management practices such as those set forth in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative 2010-2014 Standard: Section 2.  (PDF, 657KB) This standard promotes certification under the well-known American Tree Farm System.  Further, the Society of American Foresters (SAF), the preeminent society of forestry professionals in the United States and internationally, is on the external review board of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

                                          Image of Forest Harvest

How to Apply for a Sustainable Timber Harvest/Forest Conservation Exemption

To apply for an exemption from the Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law for a sustainable timber harvest, complete the following steps.


Step 1: Obtain a Sediment Control Permit

Sediment control permits are issued through the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services. To obtain a permit:

  1. Download and complete the Application for Sediment Control Permit(PDF, 44KB)

  2. Submit all required fees. 


Step 2: Obtain Approval From the County Arborist

The Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law requires the approval of the County Arborist before a timber harvest project may obtain exemption from certain provisions of the Forest Conservation Law. To obtain the County Arborist's approval:

  1. Provide the information required by the Information for Sustainable Timber Harvest form (PDF, 44KB). This information will assist the County Arborist in determining if the harvest, as planned, qualifies for an exemption from the Forest Conservation Law.
  2. Obtain an Environmental Review from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Natural Wildlife and Heritage Program documenting the presence or absence of any threatened or endangered species and/or habitat on-site. You may also reach the Heritage Program by phone: 1.877.620.8367, option 9, Ext. 8573. 
  3. Submit this application material to the County Arborist by email, fax, or mail: 
County Arborist, Department of Environmental Protection
255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120   Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 311 (available within the County, or call 240-777-0311)
Fax: 240.777.7752

After receiving this information, the County Arborist will contact you within 10 business days to schedule a site visit and review the information.


Step 3: Complete the Natural Resources Inventory/Forest Stand Delineation Exemption Review Application

Review and complete the following documents: (Note that the documents may also be found on the NRI/FSD Review section on the Montgomery Planning, Development Review webpage.)

  1. Review the NRI/FSD and Forest Conservation Exemption Requirements Notice (PDF, 90KB)

  2. Complete the NRI/FSD and Forest Conservation Exemption Review Application  (PDF, 913KB)  To complete the application:
    a. Complete page 1.
    b. Complete top half of page 2.
    c. Complete page 2, Section 3. The type of exemption you are applying for is Section 22A-5(d), commercial logging and timber harvesting operation.
    d. Complete page 3.
    e. Complete pages 4 and 5, Sections 1, 2, and 4.

  3. Complete the Fee Schedule and Worksheet (PDF, 221KB)


Step 4: Submit the following to Montgomery Planning, Environmental Planning Division:

1. Sediment Control Permit (Step 1);

2. Environmental Review from the DNR Natural Heritage Program (Step 2);

3. Approval letter from the Montgomery County Arborist (Step 2);

4. Completed NRI/FSD Exemption Review Application (Step 3); and

5. Application Fee.

Submit all application material to the Environmental Planning by email, fax, or mail:

Environmental Planning
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD  20910
Phone: 301-495-4730
Fax: 301-495-1303


Information about the Processes and Problems of Unsustainable Timber Harvests:


Sustainable Forestry Resources

Image of American Chestnut in Forest


Forest Conservation and Management Can Save You Money! 

Most owners who have five or more contiguous acres of forest land within the state of Maryland may be eligible to participate in the Forest Conservation and Management Program with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This program often provides significant savings in property taxes. 

Forest Conservation and Management Means Property Tax Savings (MD DNR publication) (PDF, 329KB)







Learn More about Sustainable Forestry

How To Hire a Forester