Tree preservation legislation passes both chambers, ready for Governor’s signature

February 27, 2020

Having already passed the House of Delegates once earlier this session, HB 520 (Bulova) successfully advanced in the House a second time this week – this time with amendments tacked on by the Senate. The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk.

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).

As previously reported, while HB 520 encountered no real opposition in either Chamber, the Senate did opt to amend 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 Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.  This will ensure that all relevant leaders in both the executive and legislative branches will be fully appraised of the important work this group does and will be able to act on any recommendations made in time for the 2021 legislative session.

VACo has been proud to support and speak on behalf of HB 520 over the course of this General Assembly session. We look forward to the Governor signing this into law.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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