Cooperatove Conservation Project

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Conservation

Multi-state Agriculture Program Helps Cleanup Chesapeake Bay

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Delaware Maryland New York Pennsylvania Virginia

Project Summary: Regional partnership works with farmers to improve agricultural practices and improve water quality within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
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Farm owner, Dr. Sears and Farm Manager, Evan Miles discuss the successes of their older Conservation Reserve Program plantings that filter pollutants before they enter the Chesapeake Bay. (FSA Photo)
Resource Challenge

The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary, one of the most productive and diverse in the world. Its watershed spans 15 million acres across five states, and is home to 16 million residents. Population density, development, and agricultural runoff are key contributors to excess nutrients, sediment, and temperature changes that are polluting the Bay and destroying habitat.


The Federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), combines with state programs to meet specific state and national goals, targeting highly erodible land along streams and riverbanks. Farmers agree to voluntarily convert cropland to vegetation in return for rental payments and other incentives. 


Each State organizes and develops its unique CREP proposal, consulting with local interests that include environmental groups, agricultural interests, farmers, and others. Most designate a full-time CREP coordinator and set up a CREP Team to assess the program, resolve issues, and conduct public awareness programs. Some states share planting costs, provide technical support to applicants, or purchase permanent conservation easements to protect riparian areas.  

Examples of Key Partners

USDA: Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forest Service, States: Departments of Natural Resources, Departments of Agriculture; Ducks Unlimited, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Future Harvest CASA, Quail Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife Program, County Soil Conservation Districts, land trusts.

Results and Accomplishments

Partners are promoting CREP and field staffs are helping farmers with practices. Local land trusts are developing and executing the State easement component of certain CREP agreements. 

More than 200,000 acres of riparian buffers, wetlands, and erodible cropped fields have been enrolled in the six States. This effort contributed to achieving the 2010 Chesapeake Bay goal of 600 stream miles of trees in Maryland 10 years early.  In addition to enhancing water quality, the new vegetation will also provide shelter, nesting areas, and food for many species of wildlife. 



Multi-state approach to address water quality improvements within the Chesapeake Bay Area.

Project Contact
Charles K. Chadwell
CREP Program Manager
USDA Farm Service Agency



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