​Contact: MDOT Office of Public Affairs
David Broughton, 410-865-1029
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030 

HANOVER, MD (May 30, 2023) – The Maryland Department of Transportation is branching out in its commitment to support the state's goal of planting five million trees by 2031 with initiatives that add thousands of new trees a year across Maryland through plantings, grants for community-based efforts and programs that encourage support for the Maryland Forest Service.

The department is among state agencies involved in Growing 5 Million Trees in Maryland, a plan designed to help the state meet its goal to plant and maintain five million native trees in Maryland by the end of calendar year 2031. The initiative, led by a commission chaired by the Maryland Department of the Environment, stems from the Tree Solutions Now Act, passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021.

“We're working every day to mitigate and reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation – now and for the future," said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “As we strive to create and maintain a transportation network that's cleaner and more efficient, our partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders in the 5 Million Trees initiative will make a generational impact on those goals."

The department routinely plants trees as part of highway, bridge, transit and other projects, but since those plantings largely mitigate the impact of those projects, they don't count toward the 5 Million Trees initiative. However, led by its Office of Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation, the department does conduct other tree planting programs, including:

  • The Maryland Department of Transportation's Urban Tree Grant Program, a partnership with the Maryland Urban and Community Forest Committee and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, awards grants of up to $5,000 for tree plantings and more than $5,000 for pocket forest projects. The grants can be used by nonprofits, schools, local business associations, youth and civic groups and others, and can help areas affected by environmental justice issues or heat island effect – such as urban areas with little tree canopy. NOTE: Applications for fall grants are being accepted through July 15. For details, click here.
  • The Motor Vehicle Administration's Tree Planting Donation allows Marylanders to make a voluntary donation of $1, or more, when registering or renewing a vehicle registration, to the Maryland Forest Service to plant trees.
  • The Maryland Port Administration's Urban Forestry Partnership works with communities to restore tree canopy on streets and parks in Baltimore City. Between 2018 and 2020, the Partnership planted 1,500 trees in neighborhoods across Baltimore.​ 

In addition, the Maryland Department of Transportation supports the annual Keep Maryland Beautiful program in partnership with the Maryland Environmental Trust, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Forever Maryland Foundation. The program awards grants to community groups for projects that can include tree plantings among other environmental and cleanup efforts. 

The plan for Growing 5 Million Trees in Maryland was created by the Maryland Commission for the Innovation and Advancement of Carbon Markets and Sustainable Tree Plantings. A key focus of the effort is supporting equity through the targeted planting of at least 500,000 of these trees in underserved urban communities. 

In April, the Maryland Department of the Environment launched an online “tracking tool"
and hub site for tree plantings and planting initiatives across Maryland. From community-based projects to agency efforts, the tool will track the trees and the progress toward the 5 Million Trees goal. The hub site also provides a resource library that includes tree planting tips and guides, a map of statewide tree planting assistance and rebate programs, and volunteer and training opportunities to get more people involved in tree plantings across Maryland. The site can be accessed here

Maryland Department of Transportation's Office of Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation has produced a video – “Why Plant Trees?" – detailing the community benefits of planting trees. 

Planting trees provides a wide range of environmental and social benefits. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis and sequester carbon inside the tree, helping reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants in the air while providing oxygen back to the atmosphere. Trees can also help reduce stormwater run-off and help prevent erosion. And all trees – native species especially – provide an invaluable resource for wildlife, serving as a food source and shelter. 

From a health perspective, the greenspace provided by trees can have a positive effect on mental and emotional wellbeing. In addition to improved air quality, reduced temperatures and increased shade, greenspace provided by trees has been shown to improve physical and mental health outcomes, enhance youth development, and contribute to increased community engagement. 

Together with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of the Environment, support for the 5 Million Trees Initiative includes the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The state is also partnering with a range of community-based organizations, not-for-profits and local governments.