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Act 171 - Planning for Forests

Act 171 requires that municipal and regional plans adopted on or after January 1, 2018 include consideration of forest resources. Plans will need to be consistent with the expanded state planning goal related to identification and protection of aquifer protection areas, forest blocks, wildlife habitat, and habitat connectors.

The Act also states that municipal zoning bylaws may not regulate "forestry operations,” but notes that municipalities can “...impose reasonable conditions under subsection 4464(b) of this title to protect wildlife habitat, threatened or endangered species, or other natural, historic, or scenic resources” and that the law “does not prevent the municipality from enforcing such conditions, provided that the reasonable conditions do not restrict or regulate forestry operations unrelated to land development.”

In addition, a Study Committee on Land Use Regulation and Forest Integrity has been established to study potential revisions to Act 250 and the Planning and Development Act to determine how to better protect contiguous areas of forestland from fragmentation, promote habitat connectivity, and protect working forestland use, agriculture, and recreation.