The Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team works to keep local watersheds healthy across a range of landscapes, bringing attention to the challenge of protecting streams and watersheds that are healthy today and restoring waters if they become degraded. An updated map of State-Identified Healthy Waters and Watersheds and progress toward the Maintain Healthy Watersheds goal can be viewed at Chesapeake Progress

Upcoming Meetings

Scope and Purpose

The goal of the Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team (HWGIT) is to maintain local watersheds at optimal health across a range of landscape contexts. With this goal, the HWGIT intends to bring attention to the challenge of protecting streams and watersheds that are healthy today, as a programmatic complement to the “impaired waters” approach which focuses on restoring waters if they become degraded. Healthy watersheds sustain local social, economic, and environmental benefits at optimal levels and contribute to achievement of Chesapeake Bay Program goals for the tidal Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. The optimal levels at which such benefits are sustainable will depend upon the landscape context of the watershed.

The principle rational for setting the Healthy Watersheds goal is that balanced strategies for natural resource restoration, protection, investment, and management are necessary to achieve a sustainably restored Chesapeake Bay. Conserving natural resources is a more cost-effective strategy to achieve Chesapeake Bay water quality goals. In addition, maintaining healthy local watersheds is more meaningful to communities since the majority of citizens are more likely to be concerned about the health of their local streams than the Chesapeake Bay.

The HWGIT has identified four strategies to ensure the long-term conservation of healthy watersheds: 1) tracking the health of watersheds and our effectiveness in protecting them, 2) strengthening local commitment and capacity to protect healthy watersheds, 3) improving protection of state-identified healthy watersheds under federal programs and federal agency decision-making, and 4) supporting state-based efforts to improve assessment and protection of healthy watersheds.

Projects and Resources

Chesapeake Healthy Watersheds Assessment

In 2017, the EPA’s Healthy Watersheds Program published the results of their Preliminary Healthy Watersheds Assessments (PHWA), a project that brought together nationally consistent data to assess watershed health and vulnerability. The HWGIT agreed that a similar regional assessment utilizing jurisdiction specific data could address major gaps identified in the Healthy Watershed’s Management Strategy. Building on the PHWA framework, HWGIT contracted Tetra Tech to complete a Chesapeake Healthy Watersheds Assessment (CHWA) to help partners identify “signals of change” in vulnerable or resilient healthy waters and watersheds. The final report was published in 2019 and is available below. In order to visualize the results, Innovate!, Inc. developed an application to facilitate exploration of the data. The readily available online, geospatial tool supports and informs management related to watershed health and vulnerability at the catchment scale. See the flyer below to read more, and access the tool directly here.

You can access the Chesapeake Healthy Watersheds Assessment tool here.

Map of State-Identified Currently Healthy Waters and Watersheds (2017)

The most current (2017) map of state-identified healthy waters and watersheds and the 2015 map. The Healthy Watersheds Outcome in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement states that one hundred percent of these waters and watersheds will remain healthy.

Healthy Watersheds Forest Retention Studies (Phases I, II and NEWLY released Phase III):

The Healthy Watersheds/Forest project is a Virginia-led, multi-year, landscape-scale effort begun in 2015 that is now in nearing completion in phase III. The goal of this project was to research and pilot alternative methods for forest and agricultural land conservation through three separate phases. Phase 1 modeled and tested alternative land use growth scenarios in a portion of the Rappahannock River Basin as a proxy for the Chesapeake Bay watershed by employing the methodology used by EPA TMDL modelers and using real land use data from the localities in the test area to determine the potential value of a BMP in the TMDL model for retaining forestland. In Phase II, Pennsylvania partnered with Virginia to determine what from the perspective of local leaders were the economic and policy incentives needed to prioritize forestland retention as a land use planning option. Phase III developed and piloted the community policy and financial infrastructure necessary to facilitate high quality forest and agricultural land conservation/retention on a sustainable, landscape scale basis. Phase III was divided into two tasks. Task 1 focused on collaborating with the municipal authorities responsible for the plans, policies and ordinances in the two pilot counties. Task 2 focused on developing a transferable financial model in the pilot counties to incentivize private capital markets to invest in the retention of forest and agricultural lands to offset future forecasted growth and development based on the 6.0 Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) model. The ultimate goal has been to create a favorable regulatory environment and incentives for private landowner participation in land conservation while also contributing to the funding requirements of counties to help them meet basic services for their citizenry through a model that can attract private sector financial interest at a scale required to achieve the Phase III goal. This Phase III report covers the research, findings and activities from the start of phase III in April 2018 through September 30, 2019, the end-date for the Chesapeake Bay Trust-funded grant period. The focus of the project team from this point forward to the end the project next Spring (with additional funding from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities) will be on (1) designing and testing in collaboration with Orange County Virginia, the Economic Development Authority infrastructure required to aggregate landowner interests effectively, and (2) further engaging with the private financial sector to solicit its interest in participating in the Virginia approach, while refining the financial options to best meet landowner, locality and investor needs.

You can read the final reports for each phase here:

Summary Report: Potomac Watershed Assessment Methodology

The Nature Conservancy conducted a watershed assessment to delineate healthy watersheds in the Potomac watershed portion of West Virginia. This project was funded by the Maintain Healthy Watersheds GIT in 2014 and was completed in the fall of 2015. The methodology used was the same as the one applied in the West Virginia Watershed Assessment Pilot Project. As part of this project a comprehensive 39 metric index of overall watershed health was created.

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Publications

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Watershed Agreement

Members

Jeff Lerner (Chair), U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
Address:
EPA's Campus at Federal Triangle
Washington, Districtofcolumbia 20004

Email:  Lerner.Jeffrey@epa.gov
Jason Dubow (Vice Chair), Maryland Department of Planning
Address:
 301 West Preston Street
Suite 1101
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Email:  jason.dubow@maryland.gov
Phone:  (410) 767-3370
Renee Thompson (Coordinator), Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team Coordinator and Geographer, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Address:
1750 Forest Drive Suite 130
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  rthompso@chesapeakebay.net
Phone:  (410) 267-5749
Sophie Waterman (Staffer), Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team Staffer, Chesapeake Research Consortium
Address:
1750 Forest Drive Suite 130
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  swaterman@chesapeakebay.net
Phone:  (410) 267-5704
Dan Murphy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
Address:
177 Admiral Cochrane Drive
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  dan_murphy@fws.gov
Phone:  (410) 573-4521
Bill Jenkins, Acting Deputy Director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 3
Address:
410 Severn Ave. Suite 109D
Annapolis, Maryland 21403

Email:  jenkins.bill@epa.gov
Phone:  (215) 814-2911
John Wolf, GIS Team Lead, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Address:
1750 Forest Drive Suite 130
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  jwolf@chesapeakebay.net
Phone:  (410) 267-5739
Peter Claggett, Research Geographer, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Address:
1750 Forest Drive Suite 130
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  pclagget@chesapeakebay.net
Phone:  (410) 267-5771
Scott Stranko, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Address:
580 Taylor Avenue
Tawes State Office Building C2
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  scott.stranko@maryland.gov
Phone:  (410) 260-8603
Todd Janeski, Coastal Nonpoint Source Prg. Mgr., Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Address:
Central Office - Zincke Bldg
203 Governor St
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Email:  Todd.Janeski@dcr.virginia.gov
Phone:  (804) 371-8984
Tim Craddock, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Address:
601 57th St. SE.601 57th St. SE.
Charleston, Westvirginia 25304

Email:  Timothy.D.Craddock@wv.gov
Phone:  (304) 926-0499 x1040
Amy Handen, Local Implementation Programs Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Address:
1750 Forest Drive Suite 130
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  handen.amy@epa.gov
Phone:  (410) 267-5793
Scott Heidel, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Address:
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101

Email:  scheidel@pa.gov
Phone:  (717) 772-5647
Mark Hoffman, Chesapeake Bay Commission
Address:
60 West Street
Suite 406
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  mhoffman@chesbay.us
Phone:  (410) 263-3420
Lauren Townley, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Address:
625 Broadway
Albany, Newyork 12233

Email:  lauren.townley@dec.ny.gov
Phone:  (518) 402-8283
Kelly Maloney, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Address:
11649 Leetown Rd
Kearneysville, Westvirginia 25430

Email:  kmaloney@usgs.gov
Jennifer Starr, Coordinator, Local Government Advisory Committee, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
Address:
501 6th St
Annapolis, Maryland 21403

Email:  jstarr@allianceforthebay.org
Phone:  (443) 949-0575
Laura Cattell Noll, Local Leadership Workgroup Coordinator, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
Address:
501 Sixth Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21403

Email:  lnoll@allianceforthebay.org
Phone:  (443) 949-0575
Katie Brownson, Watershed Specialist, U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
Address:
1750 Forest Drive Suite 130
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  Katherine.Brownson@usda.gov
Steve Epting, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Address:
1650 Arch St
philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Email:  epting.steve@epa.gov
Julie Reichert-Nguyen, Climate Resiliency Workgroup Coordinator, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office
Address:
200 Harry S Truman Parkway Suite 460
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Email:  julie.reichert-nguyen@noaa.gov
Cassandra Davis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Address:
625 Broadway
Albany, Newyork 12233

Email:  cassandra.davis@dec.ny.gov
Ben Coverdale, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Address:
285 Beiser Blvd, Suite 102
Dover, Delaware 199904

Email:  Michael.Coverdale@delaware.gov
Deborah Herr Cornwell, Maryland Department of Planning
Address:
301 W. Preston Street, Suite 1101
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Email:  deborah.herrcornwell@maryland.gov
Julia Wakeling, District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)
Address:
1200 First St NE
Washington d.c., Districtofcolumbia 20002

Email:  julia.wakeling@dc.gov
Erik Fisher, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Address:
114 S. Washington Street
Suite 103
Easton, Maryland 21601

Email:  efisher@cbf.org
Phone:  (410) 543-1999
Mindy Neil, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Address:
601 57th St SE
Charleston, Westvirginia 25304

Email:  Mindy.S.Neil@wv.gov