Creek ReLeaf - Reforesting Frederick County

About the Program

The Creek ReLeaf Program is designed to increase the total amount of forested area within Frederick County, including on privately owned lands and public properties. Forested lands provide stormwater control, reduce temperature impacts on County streams, and increase wildlife habitat.  

The program provides landowners with land assessment, a forest plan, installation of native trees and shrubs planted on their property, five years of maintenance to establish the forest stand, and payment for a permanent conservation easement placed on the planted parcel.  

After the initial five years, property maintenance reverts to the land owner, with County inspections every three years to ensure the new forest is healthy and growing. As trees mature, the property owner is allowed to selectively harvest wood.

As of 2023, More than 584 acres of land have been reforested through participation in the Creek ReLeaf program!

Download Creek ReLeaf Program Overview.

This project is funded in part by Maryland’s Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.

What is a Conservation Easement?

Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a local government or land trust that permanently limit certain uses of the land to protect the conservation values. The landowner still owns and uses the land under an easement as long as the use does not violate the terms of the easement. The easement is permanent, even if the landowner sells the property. Selective harvesting is allowed as part of a forestry management plan under certain conditions, that may provide long term revenue to you from having a healthy forest.

Reforestation sign

Creek ReLeaf Application Process

There is an annual open application period each fall. Please check back on this page for announcements and application forms when available.

Prior to Applying

Interested property owners should do the following prior to applying for the program:

  • Determine the area proposed to be reforested.
  • Know where any existing easements are located on the property.
  • Know where the septic field is (if present on property).
  • Review the proposed Permanent Conservation Easement.
Creek ReLeaf Property

Prioritization of Properties

The Creek ReLeaf Program will rank and prioritize proposed reforestation areas on a yearly basis using the scoring criteria listed below: 

  • Size of proposed reforestation project (multiple property owners can join together to increase their chances of being  accepted as the minimum acreage to be reforested must be at least 2 acres)
  •  Potential to expand or connect existing forests
  •  Proximity to a stream with high or poor water quality
  •  Access to the site for planting, maintenance, and long-term monitoring
  •  Presence of other nearby restoration efforts to improve watershed health
  • Sites outside of the following jurisdictional boundaries: Brunswick, Emmitsburg, Frederick City, Middletown, Mount Airy, Myersville, Thurmont, and Walkersville

Know Your Land:

 Reforestation will not be permitted in:             

  •  Existing easements such as water, sewer, power lines, etc.
  •  Existing or proposed septic fields.
  •  Existing agricultural easements where conflict may occur.

For questions, please contact:

Linda Williamson, Project Manager


Phone:  301-600-1741