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February 23, 2024

“Ecosystem services” are the benefits ecosystems provide to people. These benefits include providing food, clean air, clean water, recreation, and many other explicit or intrinsic values to people and communities. Investments in Chesapeake Bay restoration are typically designed to improve water quality, given the legal requirements of the Clean Water Act. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement sets goals that encompass a wide range of ecosystem services. A narrow focus on water quality can result in the implementation of practices and policies that maximize nutrient and sediment reductions at the expense of feasible alternatives that offer greater ecosystem services or multiple benefits to living resources and communities.

This workshop was designed to gather input from a diverse array of stakeholders to help shape a coherent framework to identify impactful and durable ways to embed ecosystem services considerations in decision-making. This framework is critical to drive change for both the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and for multiple lagging outcomes in the 2014 Watershed Agreement that provide ecosystem service benefits beyond water quality. As jurisdictions are doubling down on their efforts to meet the TMDL 2025 target date and large investments are being made in environmental restoration and conservation, there is an opportunity to work strategically to achieve a broader set of goals for ecosystems and communities.

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