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 Planning & Zoning. For removal of several individual trees and tree pruning, the property owner can prepare and sign a plan. For larger tree removal, removal of vines & briers, and replacement with desirable understory plants, the property owner may need the assistance of a professional.

Buffer Management Plan Preparation and Checklists

Maintenance Agreements

Samples of Buffer Management Plans - Critical Area Commission

Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Lists

Critical Area Commission Guidance for Buffer Management (PDF)