Calvert County, home to crucial parts of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, has recently highlighted the significance of the region’s Critical Area Protection Act in maintaining the bay’s delicate ecosystem.

The county has developed and shared Critical Area Maps to promote awareness and active participation in conservation efforts, helping property owners identify their land’s classification. These maps are available online at

The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area includes land within 1,000 feet of the mean high water line of tidal waters, tidal wetlands, waters under the Chesapeake Bay, and tributaries like the Patuxent River. In 1984, the landmark legislation Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection Act was passed, marking the first collaboration between state and local governments in addressing the environmental impact of land development. Calvert County adopted its local Critical Area Program in December 1988.

By becoming acquainted with the Critical Area regulations, Calvert County residents are better equipped to support the preservation and protection of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. This includes mitigating water pollution, safeguarding natural habitats, and accommodating responsible future growth within the county.

Certain activities, such as construction projects, grading, controlling shoreline erosion, clearing vegetation, and removing dead or hazardous trees, require specific permits within the Critical Area. Hazardous trees presenting an immediate threat to the property may be dealt with before permit approval, with the condition that photo documentation of the hazard and a permit application are provided.

Penalties exist for unauthorized clearing within the buffer zone; prior approval is required to remove invasive plant species. Property owners are allowed to maintain existing lawns, but these additional measures are implemented to protect the integrity of the property and the bay.

Residents interested in the Critical Area Program can visit or contact the Department of Planning & Zoning at 410-535-2348.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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