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Chesapeake Bay Critical Area (CBCA)
Overview and Background
The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection Act, passed in 1984, was significant and far-reaching, and marked the first time that the State and local governments jointly addressed the impacts of land development on habitat and aquatic resources.  Calvert County adopted the local Critical Area Program in December 1988 to implement the the requirements of the Maryland State Critical Area Act.

The law identified the "Critical Area" as all land within 1,000 feet of the Mean High Water Line of tidal waters or the landward edge of tidal wetlands and all waters of and lands under the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  For Calvert County, that includes the Patuxent River.

Critical Area Commission
The law created a statewide Critical Area Commission (CAC) to oversee the development and implementation of local land use programs. For more information, visit the state Critical Area Commission homepage.

Critical Area Commission homepage


How do I know whether my property is in the Critical Area?
Maps delineating the Critical Area have been formally approved as part of Calvert County’s Critical Area program and are available in the Department of Community Planning and Building office and online.
 
Calvert County Critical Area Map
 

Zoning regulations governing the Critical Area in Calvert County can be found in Article 8 of the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance.

**** NOTE:  If you are applying for development or subdivision of land in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, you must completely fill out and submit a Critical Area Form with your application package. ****

Critical Area Brochure
Critical Area Frequently Asked Questions
Critical Area Form
 


Critical Area Buffer and Buffer Management Plans (BMPs)

What is the 100-Foot Critical Area Buffer?
The Critical Area Buffer is an area of natural vegetation of at least 100 feet, measured landward from the mean high water line of tidal waters, tributary streams and tidal wetlands. The 100-foot buffer is expanded to include any contiguous sensitive areas, including steep slopes, hydric soils and highly erodible soils.  Zoning Regulations on development and clearing in the Buffer can be found in the Calvert County Zoning Ordinance, Article 8.

When is a Buffer Management Plan (BMP) required in the Critical Area? Who prepares this plan?
Any disturbance in the 100-foot or expanded Buffer must be mitigated through a Buffer Management Plan approved by the Department of Community Planning & Building. For removal of several individual trees and tree pruning, the property owner can prepare and sign a plan. For proposed larger tree removal and removal of vines & briars and replacement with desirable understory plants, the property owner may need the assistance of a professional.

Buffer Management Plan Application and Checklist
The Green Book for the Buffer
Buffer Management Plan Step by Step
Buffer Management Plan Maintenance - Step by Step
Simplified Buffer Management Plan

Shore Erosion Control Buffer Management Plans

Maintenance Agreements
Critical Area Buffer Management Plan Maintenance Agreement (2 yr.)
Critical Area Buffer Management Plan Natural Regeneration Maintenance Agreement (5 yr.)


Samples of Buffer Management Plans - Critical Area Commission
Critical Area Buffer Resources Guide
Simplied Buffer Management Plan Example
Minor Buffer Management Plan Example
Major Buffer management Plan Example


Cheasapeake Bay Native Plant Lists
Calvert County Native Plant List
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ~ Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping
Procedures for Bonding plantings in the Critical Area


Critical Area Commission Guidance for Buffer Management 
Frequently Asked Questions 
Tree Pruning In the Critical Area 
Invasive Species Management In the Buffer 
Maintaining Your Buffer 
Enhancing Your Buffer

The Calvert County Reforestation Program
The Calvert County Critical Area Program requires the County to maintain 100 percent of existing forest cover within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area.  When maintenance or replacement of forest cover on site is not possible, a fee is collected to cover the cost of replacement on another tract within the Critical Area.  These fees-in-lieu of replanting are held in the Critical Area Reforestation Fund and subsequently used to plant appropriate sites.

The Calvert County Critical Area Reforestation Program Evaluation (CARE) Committee oversees, reviews, and approves the planting sites and species for the program.  For more information and to apply for "Free Trees in the Critical Area" please visit the CARE Committee page.

Vegetation Removal in the Critical Area


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