Through Restoration


Bringing Native Species Back from the Brink

In the four centuries since the explorations of Captain John Smith, the Chesapeake Bay has lost half of its forested shoreline, more than half its wetlands, nearly 80 percent of its underwater grasses, and more than 98 percent of its oysters. Across the watershed, approximately 1.7 million acres of once-untouched land were developed by 1950. Development has accelerated dramatically since then, with an additional 2.7 million acres built on or paved over between 1950 and 1980.

The human pressure of these changes has imposed heavy negative impacts on the health and resilience of the Bay. Although we will never return to the pristine territory explored by Captain John Smith during those early voyages, CBF is fighting to return this fragile ecosystem to balance.

For years, CBF has been a leader in restoration efforts that improve the capacity of rivers, streams, and the Bay to treat pollution. In programs across the watershed, many of them conducted with CBF volunteers and partner organizations, CBF is restoring native oysters, planting underwater grasses, and planting trees, to restore the Bay's natural filters. Check our calendar for upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Stream and Shoreline Restoration

Stormwater runoff from farmland and urban and suburban areas wash nutrients—often excessive amounts of them—into our streams and rivers eventually leading to the Bay. Too much of these nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus in particular) do great harm to our waters' critters, plants, and underwater life.

By building and restoring forested buffers (multiple rows of native trees, shrubs, and grasses) along streams and rivers, we are able to capture and filter out the pollution from runoff through these buffers. They also provide important habitat for wildlife and aquatic species, stabilize stream banks against erosion, and help keep rivers cool in summer.

In addition, CBF creates living shorelines along river and Bay waterfront with native wetland plants and grasses. These areas help restore habitat, prevent erosion, capture sediment, and filter pollution. Check our calendar for upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Working With Farmers to Reduce Pollution

The evidence is clear: Reducing pollution on agricultural land is far and away the cheapest, most cost-effective pollution-reduction strategy. But for individuals tasked with getting the job done, the financial costs can present a challenge, even for those who really want to do the right thing.

CBF has helped scores of farmers find funding and implement conservation practices that have dramatically reduced pollution running off their land. CBF is working hard to remove the road-blocks and accelerate progress through restorations like the one on the Plouse family dairy farm.

Through The Maryland Grazers Network, dairy farmers like Myron Martin and Ron Holter are proving that sustainable farming can help increase profits. Developed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm, the network is a mentorship program that provides farmers with technical assistance and expertise in pasture and forage management, financial management, marketing, and funding.

CBF's Clagett Farm is a working farm and a site for field experiences for students, teachers, and adults.

Find out more about the issues CBF is working on in your part of the watershed or volunteer for one of our restoration projects.

FY17 Restoration Accomplishments

PLANTED 40,770,999 juvenile oysters on sanctuary reefs throughout the Chesapeake Bay.

ORGANIZED and assisted 603 volunteers who grew about 570,000 oysters for planting in Maryland's Patapsco, Severn, South, Patuxent, and Tred Avon Rivers and Virginia's Lynnhaven, Lafayette, Hampton, and Elizabeth Rivers.

RECYCLED 3,100 bushels of oyster shells for baby oyster habitat and will plant the shells in both states to promote restoration.

DEVELOPED a cooperative oyster-setting program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, to help watermen plant juvenile oysters on their leases in the South River.

PLANTED 48,577 trees across the Chesapeake watershed, including on farms and in urban areas like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

RESTORED 67.7 acres of wetlands, critical areas that help filter water and provide habitat for wildlife. Also added 28.82 miles of stream buffers, areas where trees, grasses, and other plants soak up pollution before it reaches local waterways.

PROMOTED Environmental Impact Bonds as an innovative financing method for nature-based solutions to polluted runoff.

ORGANIZED an estimated 6,000 Clean the Bay Day volunteers to remove approximately 100,000 pounds of litter and debris at 250 sites along 450 miles of shoreline across Virginia.

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Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

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