Restore

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Low tide reveals a healthy oyster reef in Bavon, Virginia.

© Robert Diller

Rebuilding Our Rivers, Streams, and Bay

CBF performs hands-on restoration work with community partners across the watershed to reduce pollution at its source and rebuild the Bay's natural filters—oyster reefs, forests, and wetlands. These efforts not only improve water quality in the Bay and its rivers and streams, they also protect shorelines, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, cool cities, and increase our resilience to climate change.

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 accelerated dramatically between 1950 and 1980, with an additional 2.7 million acres built on or paved over. Development has continued across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia at a rate between 30,000 to 40,000 acres per year.

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 level of abundance experienced prior to colonization and development, CBF is fighting to return this fragile ecosystem to balance.

Restoring Native Oysters

Native oysters filter pollutants out of the Bay and their reefs provide crucial habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay species. To reverse centuries of pollution, overharvesting, and disease that left oyster populations at a fraction of their historic levels, CBF restoration teams, volunteers, and partners raise juvenile oysters and work from the bottom up to rebuild reef habitat in targeted restoration areas. Learn more about our oyster restoration work in Maryland and Virginia.

Restoring Healthy Soils and Clean Water

CBF works one-on-one with farmers to implement regenerative agriculture practices that keep valuable nutrients and soil on the land—rather than in the water. These practices, which include rotational grazing, planting cover crops, and planting streamside buffers, also help improve farms' resilience to climate change and support vibrant agricultural economies that allow thousands of small farms across the watershed to survive and thrive. Learn how regenerative agriculture practices are helping local farmers succeed.

Another form of restoration that protects water quality is the living shoreline. CBF works with landowners to create living shorelines along river and Bay waterfront using native wetland plants and grasses. This not only prevents erosion, it captures sediment, restores habitat, and filters pollution.

Planting Trees on Farms and in Urban Communities

Through our tree planting initiatives, CBF staff and volunteers work directly with landowners and community groups to plant trees along rivers, streams, and shorelines, as well as in urban neighborhoods. Trees help reduce dangerous heat—important in urban communities, cool streams— important for sensitive fish and other aquatic species, improve water quality, reduce the effects of climate change, and provide critical habitat for wildlife. Here are just a few stories of how urban restoration is helping communities in Baltimore, west Philadelphia, and Hopewell.

From Our Blog

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FY21 Restoration Accomplishments

BEGAN a three-year project to restore 200 acres of streamside forest along the Upper James River watershed.

CONVERTED 800+ acres of farmland to rotationally grazed pastures.

COMPLETED a multi-year project that planted more than 60 million oysters in the Little Choptank and Tred Avon rivers.

HELPED farmers in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania install conservation practices that have prevented 5.8 million pounds of sediment, 38,000 pounds of nitrogen, and 6,000 pounds of phosphorus from reaching the Bay through CBF's Mountains-to-Bay Grazing Alliance.

GREW our Chesapeake Oyster Alliance from from 60 to 73 partners and added over 2.37 billion oysters to the Bay on the way to our 10 billion goal.

     

GREW our Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership from 138 to 197.

PLANTED more than 3.09 million trees in highly targeted locations.

The Bay Needs You

The 2020 State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

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

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