Habitat Degradation

Crab in widgeon grass.

The Importance of Habitat

The Chesapeake Bay watershed provides food, water, protection, and nesting/nursery areas to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals. Fostering a healthy habitat—from the hardwood forests of the Appalachian mountains to the saltwater marshes of the Bay—is vital to restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the life that depends on it.


  • Increased Pollution: Excess nutrients deplete important underwater grasses and other Bay habitats that provide protection for the iconic blue crabs and other critters. Furthermore, these harmful pollutants often end up choking our waters of necessary oxygen that Chesapeake critters need to survive.
  • Development: Over the past 15 to 20 years, development has been the largest cause of forestland loss in the Bay watershed. Between 1982 and 1997, 750,000 acres of forestland were developed—a rate of about 100 acres per day. This loss leads to the loss of air and water filters, wildlife habitat, and other significant functions that forests provide. Development also causes more sediment pollution to run into and muddy our waters and Bay throughout the initial construction phase.
  • Climate Change: Average sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay have been rising due to climate change and naturally subsiding coastal lands, resulting in submerged or lost habitat. At least 13 islands have disappeared entirely in the Bay already; many more are at risk. It's natural low-lying topography coupled with its growing coastal population make the Chesapeake Bay especially vulnerable.

Restoration Efforts

In order to combat these threats and restore vital habitat for Chesapeake creatures, CBF works on the farm, along rivers and streams, and in the Bay, to plant underwater grasses and trees, build streamside buffers, and restore/build oyster reefs.

You may also be interested in:
  • CBF to PA DEP: "Add the Susquehanna River to Impaired Waters List" Recent declines in the Susquehanna's smallmouth bass health and population, along with water quality data suggesting poor conditions at key locations and at key times of the year, indicate the river fails to meet some of the basic requirements of the Clean Water Act.

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