Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forestry Program

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forestry Program

Chesapeake forests, both rural and urban, are crucial to maintaining the water quality of the Bay and its tributaries. They also safeguard wildlife habitat, contribute billions of dollars annually to local economies, protect public health, reduce stormwater runoff, assimilate air pollution, provide recreation opportunities, and enhance the quality of life for the watershed's 15 million residents.  Despite these benefits, forests in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are at risk. In the Bay watershed alone, some 750,000 acres, equivalent to 20 Washington, DCs, have been converted to development since the 1980s. Over roughly the same time period, the Bay watershed has experienced a net loss of forestland at the rate of 100 acres each day. It is projected that over 5.5 million acres of the watershed's most valuable forests will experience increased development by 2030. In addition, there is a critical need for regionally coordinated forestland conservation, restoration, and stewardship plans, and actions by private landowners, conservation groups and governments to improve the health and sustainability of forests and fight threats from invasive species.

The Northeastern Area has provided leadership for Forest Service involvement in the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), a federal-state-local partnership that coordinates and manages restoration efforts, since 1990. NA coordinates cooperative forestry activities with State Foresters in Pennsylvania, Maryland , Virginia and the District of Columbia and builds policy, programs, and partnerships focused on the role of trees and forests in future restoration of the Bay. Through the provision of technical information, conservation education, policy development, demonstration projects, and active collaboration with public and private groups, NA has made major contributions to a variety of watershed issues. These include: stream and wetland restoration, riparian forest conservation, urban forestry, options for reducing forest loss and fragmentation due to urban growth, and fostering citizen-based efforts. NA provides staffing to the Bay Program and supports the work of a multi-state Forestry Work Group.

To better understand and address these challenges, The Conservation Fund and the USDA Forest Service recently completed a comprehensive report on the State of Chesapeake Forests. This first-of-its-kind report synthesizes more than a decade's worth of data from public and private sources, highlights current forest conditions, forecasts future trends, and outlines key goals and strategies necessary to conserve and restore the forests of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

View or download a pdf overview of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forestry Program.

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