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.

Importance

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.

Outcomes

Wetlands

Healthy wetlands are vital to a healthy Chesapeake Bay. Wetlands trap polluted runoff and slow the flow of nutrients, sediment and chemical contaminants into rivers, streams and the Bay. By soaking up stormwater and dampening storm surges, wetlands slow the erosion of shorelines and protect properties from floods. Wetlands also provide critical habitat for fish, birds, mammals and invertebrates, and support recreational fishing and hunting across the watershed.
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.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Habitat Goal Implementation Team (GIT 2)
Lead Workgroup:
Wetland Workgroup
Contact:
Pam Mason (804) 684-7158
Management Strategy:
2020 2021 wetlands management strategy (pdf - 450.117 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
IV.a List of Climate Change Indicators (pdf - 308.831 KB)
Strategy Review System Update:
Logic & Action Plan | Narrative | Presentation
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Black Duck

Historically, the American black duck was the most abundant dabbling duck in eastern North America and comprised the largest portion of the region’s waterfowl harvest. Despite its importance, the black duck population declined by more than 50 percent between the 1950s and 1980s. The mid-Atlantic region supports the largest portion of eastern North America’s wintering black duck population, and preserving wetland habitat in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is critical to the long-term sustainability of the species.
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.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Habitat Goal Implementation Team (GIT 2)
Lead Workgroup:
Black Duck Action Team
Contact:
Benjamin Lewis
Management Strategy:
2019 2020 black duck management strategy final (pdf - 742.437 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
VII.b Wetlands Logic and Action Plan (pdf - 220.051 KB)
Strategy Review System Update:
Logic & Action Plan | Narrative | Presentation
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Stream Health

Restoring water quality in local rivers and streams is a key step toward meeting water quality standards across the entire Chesapeake Bay. Restoring rivers and streams also benefits the fish, wildlife and people that use them.
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.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Habitat Goal Implementation Team (GIT 2)
Lead Workgroup:
Stream Health Workgroup
Contact:
Alison Santoro
Management Strategy:
2020 2021 stream health management strategy (pdf - 508.604 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
2020 2021 stream health logic and action plan (pdf - 287.098 KB)
Strategy Review System Update:
Logic & Action Plan | Narrative | Presentation
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Brook Trout

Brook trout are essential to the headwater stream ecosystem and a valuable piece of the region's heritage and economy. Land trusts have even found that the possibility of restoring brook trout to local streams motivates private landowners to take conservation actions. But unless steps are taken to reverse brook trout population decline, the species could be at risk of becoming regionally threatened within three to four decades.
Outcome:
Restore and sustain naturally reproducing brook trout populations in Chesapeake headwater streams with an eight percent increase in occupied habitat by 2025.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Habitat Goal Implementation Team (GIT 2)
Lead Workgroup:
Brook Trout Action Team
Contact:
Stephen Faulkner
Management Strategy:
2018 2019 brook trout management strategy (pdf - 796.852 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
IV.g Brook Trout Logic and Action Plan (pdf - 224.892 KB)
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Fish Passage

Physical structures that hinder or block the movement of migratory fish to their historic spawning grounds are one of the most important factors in the decline of American shad, brook trout and other fish species. Removing dams or installing fish lifts, ladders and other passageways can allow migratory fish to return to their spawning and nursery grounds and allow resident fish to move freely through streams. The outcome was modified by the Principals' Staff Committee in January 2020.

Outcome:

Continually increase access to habitat to support sustainable migratory fish populations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s freshwater rivers and streams. By 2025, restore historical fish migration routes by opening an additional 132 miles every two years to fish passage. Restoration success will be 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.

Original 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

Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Habitat Goal Implementation Team (GIT 2)
Lead Workgroup:
Fish Passage Workgroup
Contact:
Mary Andrews (410) 267-5644
Management Strategy:
2018 2019 fish passage management strategy (pdf - 904.451 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
2021 10 28 fpwg 2022 2024 logic action plan final draft to srs (pdf - 348.473 KB)
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

Underwater grasses benefit aquatic life and serve critical functions in the Chesapeake Bay. Also known as submerged aquatic vegetation, underwater grasses add oxygen to the water; improve water clarity; provide food and shelter to fish and wildlife; and reduce shoreline erosion. Increasing grass abundance in the Bay and its rivers will improve the entire Bay ecosystem.
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.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Habitat Goal Implementation Team (GIT 2)
Contact:
Brooke Landry (410) 260-8629
Management Strategy:
Sav management strategy v3 (pdf - 587.88 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
2020 2021 sav logic and action plan (pdf - 246.079 KB)
Strategy Review System Update:
Logic & Action Plan | Narrative | Presentation
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Forest Buffers

Forest buffers, or the trees, shrubs and other plants that grow along rivers and streams, are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Forest buffers prevent pollution from entering waterways, stabilize stream banks, provide food and habitat to wildlife, and keep streams cool during hot weather. Learn more information about forest buffers by going to the Forest Buffer Issues page. For more information on forest buffer efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, go to the Planting Forest Buffers page or visit the Publications tab on the Forestry Workgroup page.
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.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Water Quality Goal Implementation Team (GIT 3)
Lead Workgroup:
Forestry Workgroup
Contact:
Sally Claggett (410) 267-5706
Management Strategy:
2018 2019 forest buffer management strategy (pdf - 1.089 MB)
Logic & Action Plan:
Rfb logic and action plan jan 2021 (pdf - 227.778 KB)
Strategy Review System Update:
Logic & Action Plan | Narrative | Presentation
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

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Tree Canopy

Increasing tree cover in communities is a sustainable and cost-effective practice that improves society and the environment. Increased tree canopy can enhance air quality, water quality, energy savings, public health and community investment.
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.
Lead Goal Implementation Team:
Water Quality Goal Implementation Team (GIT 3)
Lead Workgroup:
Forestry Workgroup
Contact:
Julie Mawhorter (570) 296-9626
Management Strategy:
Finaltree canopy mgmt strategy v2 6 19 19 (pdf - 829.689 KB)
Logic & Action Plan:
Tree canopy workplan final draft 4 30 21 (pdf - 281.975 KB)
Strategy Review System Update:
Logic & Action Plan | Narrative | Presentation
Archived Strategy Review System Documents:
View Archived Strategy Review System Documents

Track Progress