March 12, 2018
Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee
Maryland General Assembly
Senator Joan Carter Conway, Chair
Re: SB 610 - Natural Resources - Forest Conservation Act - Standards and Requirements = SUPPORT
Dear Chairwoman Conway and Members of the Committee:
The Maryland Horse Council (MHC) is a membership-based, umbrella trade association of the entire horse industry in Maryland. Our membership includes over 40 breed, interest and discipline associations, plus horse farms and stables, horse-related businesses, and horse owners representing all facets of the Maryland equestrian community, from the owners of race horses to the owners of trail horses or just beloved retired companion horses. As such, we represent over 30,000 Marylanders.
MHC is committed to promoting good environmental stewardship of the land. In 2011, MHC established a Farm Stewardship Committee to assist horse farm owners and managers to reach their land stewardship goals by providing user-friendly information, community support, and access to information on financing and other incentives. The Committee also works to gain recognition for Maryland’s horse farms as excellent stewards of about one-quarter (approx. 587,000 acres) of all agricultural land in the state. Much of that equine-dedicated land is in pasture and forest, both of which help reduce run-off to streams and rivers and provide wildlife habitat. We are dedicated to bringing the voice of the horse community into discussions of laws, regulations and incentive programs for the environment.
As noted above, established forest exceeds only well-managed pasture as a protector of the Bay. In addition, because horseback riders seek to respect agricultural fields, forest lands are our most common venues for riding. SB 610 takes important and vital steps to protect the overall forest cover.
Therefore, MHC supports SB 610 and urges a favorable report.