Save the Bay News: Your Favorite Stories of 2023


A prized blue crab near Port Isobel Island, Virginia.

Morgan Jones/CBF Staff

From struggling striped bass (AKA “rockfish” or “stripers”) to a major new scientific report that could shape the future of watershed restoration, we take a look back at the most popular stories of 2023.

One thing is clear: This year had more than its fair share of challenges. As we wade deeper into the climate crisis, 2023 saw deadly floods, heatwaves, and storms and is on track to be the hottest year on record. At the same time, we’ve seen hope and innovation (and no, we didn’t use AI to write this). It’s been no different for the Chesapeake region and the people and creatures that call this place home. In this month’s newsletter, we look back at our most popular stories from this complex year. A major new scientific report assessing Bay restoration highlighted what has and has not been working in our fight to save the Bay. Iconic fisheries like striped bass continued to struggle while others are on the rise. Regenerative agriculture—and its deep roots—offered ways of working the land that are critical for restoring ecological balance and clean water. CBF Education celebrated 50 years of inspiring 1.5 million people on the water while our advocacy teams celebrated major clean water wins. Our dedicated volunteers built healthy, resilient shorelines and community; and families found connection and meaning in this watershed we share and love.

Readers’ Choice

The sun rises over still water. There are long, scattered clouds across the sky with gold tones and a shining sun. The silhouette of a boat, dock, and marsh grass are in the foreground.

Dean Thomas Harrison

The Future of Bay Restoration

Dozens of watershed scientists recently wrote a joint report assessing the challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort and how to accelerate progress. Virginia Senior Scientist Joseph Wood breaks down five of the report's big takeaways and how they could shape the future of watershed restoration as we know it.

Schooling striped bass, also known as rockfish.


Fish Favorites

The worrisome trend of a struggling striped bass population, a modest improvement in blue crabs, bright spots for the Bay’s oysters, and the clean, cold water critical to Pennsylvania’s beloved trout—are some of our most popular stories of the year revolving around the region’s iconic fisheries.

A family stands in front of a river on a bright sunny day.

Generations of the Wilson Family have called this stretch of land along the Yeocomico River home since 1877.

Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Family Legacy on the Yeocomico

“It is a place steeped in the history of one family’s nurturing of mother nature’s watershed treasure.” So says CBF Board Chair Otis Jones of a special part of the world at the edge of the Yeocomico River in Virginia’s Northern Neck. For 146 years, the Wilson family has called this land and water home—a rare thing for a Black family in the south.

Editors’ Choice

A Black man leans down to check vegetable plants.

Thelonius Cook grows a variety of crops using his family's traditional agricultural practices on his 7.5-acre farm, Mighty Thundercloud Edible Forest, on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Thelonius Cook

Deep Roots

Tens of thousands of years ago, farmers of color around the world pioneered what many agronomists and conservationists now call regenerative agriculture—farming in ways that restore ecological balance. But while modern science is catching on, some Indigenous and Black farmers worry it is losing the emphasis on community, social justice, and healing.

CBF students are active learners, hauling fishing gear aboard the Bea Hayman Clark education workboat to sort and study what lives in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Jay Fleming

Learning for Life

This year, CBF Education is celebrating 50 years of bringing students, teachers, policymakers, and community members outside to learn through its award-winning programs. Vice President for Education Tom Ackerman reflects on education's role in creating a lasting culture of environmental stewardship and giving people the tools to solve the complex challenges facing our watershed and our society.

A line of volunteers flanks a newly created living shoreline, arms raised in victory.

A muddy group of volunteers celebrate progress on a living shoreline project in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Sue Mangan

Building Shorelines and Community

What happens when dozens of people volunteer together one summer to restore a tidal shoreline? They not only help save the Bay—they end up creating community. That's what happened in Portsmouth, Virginia, this summer as 90 volunteers installed a 718-foot living shoreline over the course of 10 weeks, building up oyster reefs and marshes along the waterfront.

Kayak in the water

Don Runyon

Top Clean Water Wins

From the passage of historic forest legislation in Maryland to unprecedented investments in clean water in Virginia, advocates like you helped secure some big Bay wins this year. Overall, thousands of Bay savers took 22,000 actions for clean water and healthy communities in 2023. Bravo!

In the News

What You Can Do

  • Get your Bay wildlife fix! Check out our most popular video clips on social media this year, including a heron eating a crab(!), a sea turtle making a guest appearance on a CBF education experience, horseshoe crabs mating, and adorable goslings leaping from their nest by the Bay.
  • Explore what you made possible in our 2023 Impact Report!
  • Strong action is needed now to ensure a more abundant and healthy striped bass population in the future—and you can help. Take action before December 22!
  • Legislative sessions are right around the corner and things move quickly. Stay up to date by joining our SMS Action Network.
  • Now through December 31, your gift to save the Bay is worth DOUBLE. Give today to have your donation matched dollar-for-dollar by CBF's Board of Trustees.


The views and opinions expressed in the media or articles on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Website, or any link contained in a linked Website, or any changes or updates to such Websites. The inclusion of any link is provided only for information purposes.

The Bay Needs You

The 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


Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or advocating for a clean Bay, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

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