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Tree preservation legislation passes Senate with amendments, heads back to House for final vote

HB 520 (Bulova) has successfully passed the full Senate by a vote of 33-3 and will now head back across the hall to the House of Delegates for a final vote.

HB 520 directs the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to convene a stakeholder advisory group for the purpose of studying the planting or preservation of trees as a land cover type and as a stormwater best management practice (BMP).  The bill was the result of several months of stakeholder conversations and negotiations between VACo, the Home Builders Association of Virginia (HBAV), the Virginia Municipal League (VML), and Arlington County about urban forestry and ways local governments could embrace tree preservation or replanting as a potential stormwater BMP that can help meet the goals of the Chesapeake Bay Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).

While HB 520 encountered no real opposition in either Chamber, the Senate amended the bill to require that the findings and final report of this study group not only be published by the DEQ but also reported to the Chairs of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

VACo has been proud to support and speak on behalf of HB 520 over the course of this General Assembly session. The bill – and its new amendments – will likely be reheard by the House in the next week and is expected to pass without issue.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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