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Letter to the editor: Protect Maryland forests for our kids

“Go outside!” As a mom, if I had a quarter for every time I’ve said that, I’d be rich. But I’m worried about what outside is becoming. In 2018, my son turned 10 — and Maryland lost the equivalent of nearly 2,000 football fields of forest to development in that year.

Right now, our legislators are considering important bills that will decide the future of Maryland’s forests. HB120/SB203 (the Redefine the Definition of No Net Loss bill) would help us keep 40 percent of the state in forest — not just tree canopy.

“Canopy” could be individual trees in neighborhoods and city streets but not necessarily a forest, which is an important distinction. Forest is a full natural system supporting healthy soils, clean air and habitat for wildlife — it’s the gold standard of “outside.” We need to protect our forest, not only trees.

Two other bills would form a task force on Maryland’s forests (HB735/SB729) and improve the current fee-in-lieu system to do a better job replacing trees that we do cut down (HB272/SB234). Together, all three bills would help safeguard Maryland’s remaining forests for years to come.

The time to protect Maryland’s forests is now, and it’s not just for the trees or wildlife. It’s for walking sticks, shady trailside patches, hide-and-seek spots and clean air in growing lungs — so generations of Maryland kids grow up with the best “outside” we can give them.

Jennifer Herzog