Monday, December 17, 2012

New Forest Plan for Chesapeake Bay

New forest plan for bay
In order to help the Chesapeake Bay, there's a new plan for adding forests and trees around the watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Forest Restoration Strategy was approved earlier this month by state foresters and federal officials.

Forests are important to the health of the bay because they slow and absorb stormwater and suck up excess nitrogen in the soil. They also provide habitat for wildlife and boost air quality.  "More forests means cleaner water for the Chesapeake Bay. Further, in this watershed, enhancing urban forests is of particular importance," U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a statement.

The Chesapeake Bay's 64,000-square-mile watershed was once 95 percent forested. Today, about 55 percent of the Chesapeake Bay's watershed remains forested. The watershed is losing forests at a rate of 100 acres per day.
I'd like a few more details  How do they intend to make more forests?  Buy up old ag land? Forests pay poorly in this region; the trees aren't terribly good lumber, and so there is a lot of pressure on a land owner to find a way to make revenue some other way, developing it, or putting it into agriculture.

When I arrived in MD, back in the 80's it was dogma that forests were increasing in the bay watershed, as abandoned field were converted to forests. I'm curious how much "redefining" land use has contributed to the shift. 

Here's a pretty cool interactive mapping tool to examine the forested and developed areas in Maryland, from 1973 to 2010.

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