Special Protection Areas


Under County law, a Special Protection Area (SPA) is defined as:

  • A part of the County that has high-quality or unusually sensitive water resources (i.e. high quality streams, sensitive wetlands, and soil prone to erosion) or other environmental features AND

  • Where those resources or features are threatened by landuse changes (such as development) unless extraordinary or special protective measures are being taken.


Image of Upper Rock Special Protection Area
Upper Rock Creek Special Protection Area


The County Council has designated four areas within Montgomery County as SPAs.

  • Clarksburg

  • Piney Branch

  • Ten Mile Creek

  • Upper Paint Branch

  • Upper Rock Creek

As an area within an SPA is developed, the developer must follow strict requirements throughout the project in order to reduce the threat to these resources and features. While new SPAs are officially designated by County Council, anyone may propose an area for designation.

The Special Protection Area legislation specifies lead agency roles and responsibilities for Montgomery Planning and DEP.  View the SPA law.