The Susquehanna River joins with the West Branch Susquehanna, left, at Northumberland, Pa., on Sept. 17, 2019. The Susquehanna provides roughly half of the total freshwater reaching the estuary downstream. (Image by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

In 2014, Chesapeake Bay Program partners recommitted to Bay restoration efforts by signing an updated Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. The Watershed Agreement contains 10 goals and 31 outcomes for the entire partnership to collectively work on to advance the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay Program implements adaptive management in its work, a formal process that encourages adjusting our approach to future programs and projects based on lessons learned from current work, as well as updated science, policy and funding opportunities. Here at the Bay Program, we call it the Strategy Review System, and it has helped us to streamline and prioritize the work we are doing.

Under the Strategy Review System, each of the 31 outcomes of the Watershed Agreement are reviewed by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Management Board on a quarterly basis over a two-year cycle. This helps celebrate successes, address challenges and identify areas for improvement.

During the most recent review cycle, changes were recommended for three outcomes: Diversity, Land Use Methods and Metrics Development, and Fish Passage.

Diversity

The Diversity Workgroup recommends that the language in the Diversity outcome be changed to remove the word “minority.” Feedback from several listening sessions, as well as conversations with subject matter experts, indicate the term “minority,” as it is currently used in the Diversity outcome, can be viewed as derogatory by the very individuals and organizations with whom we wish to engage.

ORIGINAL DIVERSITY OUTCOME: Identify minority stakeholder groups not currently represented in leadership, decision-making or implementation of current conservation and restoration activities and create meaningful opportunities and programs to recruit and engage these groups in the partnership’s efforts.

REVISED DIVERSITY OUTCOME: Identify stakeholder groups not currently represented in leadership, decision-making or implementation of current conservation and restoration activities and create meaningful opportunities and programs to recruit and engage these groups in the partnership’s efforts.

Land Use Methods and Metrics Development

For the Land Use Methods and Metrics Development outcome, the Land Use Workgroup recommends a date change from 2016 to 2021, to account for the emergence of new technologies and resources. In 2016, the Chesapeake Bay Program completed the Chesapeake Bay High Resolution Land Cover Project, which provided one-by-one meter resolution land cover data for the entire watershed. Waiting for the release of the high-resolution land cover data to complete the assessment of land cover and land use changes throughout the watershed will yield a far superior product than what would have been available in 2016. The Land Use Workgroup will complete this assessment later this year, helping to meet the Land Use Methods and Metrics Development outcome by 2021.

ORIGINAL LAND USE METHODS AND METRICS DEVELOPMENT OUTCOME: Continually improve our knowledge of land conversion and the associated impacts throughout the watershed. By December 2016, develop a watershed-wide methodology and local-level metrics for characterizing the rate of farmland, forest and wetland conversion, measuring the extent and rate of change in impervious surface coverage and quantifying the potential impacts of land conversion to water quality, healthy watersheds and communities. Launch a public awareness campaign to share this information with local governments, elected officials and stakeholders.

REVISED LAND USE METHODS AND METRICS DEVELOPMENT OUTCOME: Continually improve our knowledge of land conversion and the associated impacts throughout the watershed. By December 2021, develop a watershed-wide methodology and local-level metrics for characterizing the rate of farmland, forest and wetland conversion, measuring the extent and rate of change in impervious surface coverage and quantifying the potential impacts of land conversion to water quality, healthy watersheds and communities. Launch a public awareness campaign to share this information with local governments, elected officials and stakeholders.

Fish Passage

The Fish Passage Workgroup proposes to revise the goal of the Fish Passage outcome from “opening 1,000 additional stream miles by 2025” to “opening an additional 132 miles every two years to fish passage”. The Chesapeake Bay Program met its original Fish Passage outcome goal in 2015 and while significant progress was made on the outcome, it was largely due to the development of more accurate technologies for measuring stream and river habitat that were not available when the goal was set in 2014. The Fish Passage Workgroup determined that since the outcome was established in 2014, habitat to migratory fish populations has been opened at a rate of 132 miles every two years as measured by the more accurate techniques, hence the change in the outcome goal.

ORIGINAL 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.

REVISED FISH PASSAGE OUTCOME: Continually increase access to habitat to support sustainable migratory fish populations in Chesapeake Bay freshwater rivers and streams. By 2025, restore historical historic fish migratory routes by opening an additional 132 miles every two years to fish passage, 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.

Interested parties are invited to review and comment on these proposed changes. Comments will be accepted until March 18, 2020 and can be emailed to Chantal Madray at madray.chantal@epa.gov.

Tags:

There are no comments. Please submit a comment by completing the form.

Leave a comment:

Thank you!

Your comment has been received. Before it can be published, the comment will be reviewed by our team to ensure it adheres with our rules of engagement.

Back to recent stories