Forests and 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 for eligibility for 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. Image of Forest Harvest

Logging and harvesting plans are reviewed for 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).


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

Forest Harvest Permits are a subset of sediment control permits. They are issued through the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services. Additional information and the steps to obtain a forest harvest permit are found in the Process Guide on the Forest Harvests Permits webpage.

Fees for forest harvest and sediment control permits are provided through a link in Step 1 of the Process Guide. 


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. 
  3. Submit this application material to the County Arborist.  After receiving this information, the County Arborist will contact you to schedule a site visit and review the information.
County Arborist
2425 Reedie Drive, 4th Floor
Wheaton, MD 20902
Phone: 311 (available within the County, or call 240-777-0311)


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

Review and complete the following documents.

  1. Complete the Natural Resources Inventory/Forest Stand Delineation (NRI/FSD), Forest Conservation Exemption and Forest Bank Review (PDF, 913KB) To complete the application:

    1. Complete page 1.
    2. Complete top half of page 2.
    3. Complete Section 3 at the bottom of page 2. The type of exemption you are applying for is Section 22A-5(d), commercial logging and timber harvesting operation.
    4. Complete page 3.
  2. Additional information about the application is available here: Natural Resources Inventory/Forest Stand Delineation (NRI/FSD) and Forest Conservation Plan Exemption: Application Upload Checklist & Submission Requirements (PDF, 90KB)

Fees and general information about exemption are available on the Natural Resource Inventory/Forest Conservation Plan Exemption page of the Montgomery Planning, Development, Development Applications webpages.


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

  1. Email the completed application from Step 3 above to

  2. Once the application has been entered into the ePlans system, the primary contact listed on the application form will be emailed an ‘Initial Applicant Upload’ task to upload files into ePlans.

  3. In addition to any other requirement, upload the following documents:

    1. Completed Sediment Control Permit (Step 1);
    2. Environmental Review letter from the DNR Natural Heritage Program (Step 2);
    3. Approval letter from the Montgomery County Arborist (Step 2);

Sustainable Forestry Resources

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 ( PDF , 329KB)


Image of American Chestnut in Forest

Learn More about Sustainable Forestry


How To Hire a Forester