USDA Forest Service, Chesapeake Bay State Foresters Sign Shared Stewardship Agreement
Release Date: Oct 9, 2020
MILWAUKEE, Oct. 9, 2020 – The USDA Forest Service is partnering with six states and the District of Columbia to improve forest conditions in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an area that is home to 18 million residents who depend on its forests for clean water and air.
On Thursday, Oct. 8, the state foresters of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia joined Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen in signing a shared stewardship agreement to strengthen their collaboration on setting forest management priorities in the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Forests are essential to the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which stretches from its headwaters in the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The watershed is 60% forested, but the region’s rapid development in recent decades has led to forest fragmentation and loss and compromised forest health.
Reforestation efforts across the landscape can reduce pollution and restore critical ecosystems.
About 80% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s forestland is privately owned; the remainder includes numerous state forests and two national forests that are partly situated in the watershed. Because of this mixed ownership pattern, a shared stewardship approach is essential to addressing large-scale land management challenges and ultimately improving forest conditions.
“Shared stewardship is about stakeholders coming together across shared landscapes to meet challenges through partnerships and collaboration,” said Chief Christiansen. “This is a historic agreement between the USDA Forest Service and the six states (and the District of Columbia) that encompass the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Through shared stewardship, we will implement targeted forest restoration projects to achieve goals for the benefit of both the ecosystem and people.”
The Forest Service has long been committed to working with partners to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed through collaborative forest management. Since 1992, the agency has led the Chesapeake Bay Forestry Workgroup, a diverse group of partners and state forestry agencies, water quality advocates, the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, non-profit agencies and others working in tandem to support forest management efforts throughout the watershed region.
“USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.”