Despite increased restoration efforts throughout the watershed, the Chesapeake’s health did not improve in 2008, according to the Bay Program’s annual report, Bay Barometer: A Health and Restoration Assessment of the Chesapeake Bay and Watershed in 2008.
Due to its polluted waters, degraded habitats and low populations of key fish and shellfish species, the Bay’s health averaged 38 percent. 100 percent represents a fully restored ecosystem.
Some statistics on the health of the Bay in 2008 include:
“While there are small successes in certain parts of the ecosystem and specific geographic areas, the sobering data in this report reflect only marginal shifts from last year’s results,” said Bay Program Director Jeffrey Lape.
Bay Barometer also reviews restoration efforts that took place across the Chesapeake’s 64,000-square-mile watershed. As of 2008, Bay Program partners had put into place 61 percent of efforts needed for a restored Bay.
One restoration goal that was met in 2008 was land preservation. Bay Program partners have exceeded their goal to permanently protect from development 7.3 million acres of land – which is 20 percent of the combined watershed land area in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
“Preserving more than 7 million acres of land is a tremendous success for the partners of the Chesapeake Bay Program and the citizens of the region,” said Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine, chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council.
Other restoration highlights from 2008 included:
One of the Bay’s greatest challenges is population growth and development, which destroys forests, wetlands and other natural areas. The impacts of human activity are offsetting efforts to clean up the Bay.
Because of the influence of the Bay watershed’s 17 million residents, Bay Barometer includes a section that shows seven simple actions people can take to help restore the Bay and its local waterways:
For more information about the data included in Bay Barometer, view a PDF of the full report or see additional details on each indicator in our Bay Barometer section.