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Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement

Since the Chesapeake Bay Program’s foundation in 1983, its partners have used written agreements to guide the restoration of the nation’s largest estuary. Setting goals and tracking progress holds partners accountable for their work, while developing new agreements over time ensures our goals are aligned with the best available science to attain restoration success.

In 2009, it became clear that we needed a new agreement that would accelerate the pace of restoration and align federal directives with state and local goals to create a healthy Bay. Bay Program partners gathered input from citizens, stakeholders, academic institutions, local governments and more to draft an inclusive, goal-oriented document that would address current and emerging environmental concerns.

On June 16, 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement was signed. Signatories include representatives from the entire watershed, committing for the first time the Bay’s headwater states to full partnership in the Bay Program.  This plan for collaboration across the Bay’s political boundaries establishes goals and outcomes for the restoration of the Bay, its tributaries and the lands that surround them.

Vision

Chesapeake Bay Program partners envision an environmentally and economically sustainable Chesapeake Bay watershed with clean water, abundant life, conserved lands and access to the water, a vibrant cultural heritage, and a diversity of engaged citizens and stakeholders.

Goals

This agreement contains 10 goals that will advance the restoration and protection of the Bay watershed. Each goal is linked to a set of outcomes, or time-bound and measurable targets that will directly contribute to its achievement.

These goals are interrelated: improvements in water quality can mean healthier fish and shellfish; the conservation of land can mean more habitat for wildlife; and a boost in environmental literacy can mean a rise in stewards of the Bay’s resources. Our environment is a system, and these goals will support public health and the health of the watershed as a whole.

Sustainable Fisheries

Protect, restore and enhance finfish, shellfish and other living resources, their habitats and ecological relationships to sustain all fisheries and provide for a balanced ecosystem in the watershed and Bay.

Vital Habitats

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.

Water Quality

Reduce pollutants to achieve the water quality necessary to support the aquatic living resources of the Bay and its tributaries and protect human health.

Toxic Contaminants

Ensure that the Bay and its rivers are free of effects of toxic contaminants on living resources and human health.

Healthy Watersheds

Sustain state-identified healthy waters and watersheds, recognized for their high quality and/or high ecological value.

Stewardship

Increase the number and diversity of local citizen stewards and local governments that actively support and carry out the conservation and restoration activities that achieve healthy local streams, rivers and a vibrant Chesapeake Bay.

Land Conservation

Conserve landscapes treasured by citizens in order to maintain water quality and habitat; sustain working forests, farms and maritime communities; and conserve lands of cultural, indigenous and community value.

Public Access

Expand public access to the Bay and its tributaries through existing and new local, state and federal parks, refuges, reserves, trails and partner sites.

Environmental Literacy

Enable students in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed.

Climate Resiliency

Increase the resiliency of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including its living resources, habitats, public infrastructure and communities, to withstand adverse impacts from changing environmental and climate conditions.

Incorporating Public Feedback

Bay Program partners welcomed stakeholder input on drafts of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement during two public comment periods. Comments that were submitted during this period, as well as the decisions made in response to each comment, are summarized in the documents below:

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