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Vital Habitats

Our increasing need for land and resources has fragmented and degraded habitats across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, challenging the health of many species. Conserving healthy habitats and restoring the connectivity and function of degraded habitats is essential to the long-term resiliency and sustainability of the ecosystem and the region’s quality of life.

Goal: Restore, enhance and protect a network of land and water habitats to support fish and wildlife and to afford other public benefits, including water quality, recreational uses and scenic value across the watershed.

Outcomes

Wetlands Outcome: Continually increase the capacity of wetlands to provide water quality and habitat benefits throughout the watershed. Create or reestablish 85,000 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands and enhance function of an additional 150,000 acres of degraded wetlands by 2025. These activities may occur in any land use (including urban), but primarily occur in agricultural or natural landscapes.

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Black Duck Outcome: By 2025, restore, enhance and preserve wetland habitats that support a wintering population of 100,000 black ducks, a species representative of the health of tidal marshes across the watershed. Refine population targets through 2025 based on best available science.

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Stream Health Outcome: Continually improve stream health and function throughout the watershed. Improve health and function of ten percent of stream miles above the 2008 baseline for the watershed.

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Brook Trout Outcome: Restore and sustain naturally reproducing brook trout populations in Chesapeake headwater streams with an eight percent increase in occupied habitat by 2025.

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Fish Passage Outcome: Continually increase available habitat to support sustainable migratory fish populations in Chesapeake Bay freshwater rivers and streams. By 2025, restore historical fish migratory routes by opening 1,000 additional stream miles, with restoration success indicated by the consistent presence of alewife, blueback herring, American shad, hickory shad, American eel and brook trout, to be monitored in accordance with available agency resources and collaboratively developed methods.

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Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Outcome: Sustain and increase the habitat benefits of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Bay. Achieve and sustain the ultimate outcome of 185,000 acres of SAV Bay-wide necessary for a restored Bay. Progress toward this ultimate outcome will be measured against a target of 90,000 acres by 2017 and 130,000 acres by 2025.

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Forest Buffer Outcome: Continually increase the capacity of forest buffers to provide water quality and habitat benefits throughout the watershed. Restore 900 miles per year of riparian forest buffer and conserve existing buffers until at least 70 percent of riparian areas throughout the watershed are forested.

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Tree Canopy Outcome: Continually increase urban tree canopy capacity to provide air quality, water quality and habitat benefits throughout the watershed. Expand urban tree canopy by 2,400 acres by 2025.

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