Land Use

The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans 64,000 square miles of land. It encompasses parts of six states and all of Washington, D.C. While undeveloped forests provide clean air, water and wildlife habitat and support the region’s economy, a large portion of the land in the watershed is used to grow crops, raise livestock and build homes and businesses that support the more than 17 million people who call the watershed home.

Our actions on land have a big impact on the water. Altogether, more than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers thread through the Bay watershed. Each one of us lives within a few miles of one of these waterways, which act like pipelines that carry pollution from our communities to the Bay. Putting conservation practices in place to reduce our impact on the land and protect healthy habitats will be critical to the future health and resilience of the Bay.



Well-managed agricultural land can benefit the economy and the environment, boosting crop yields and restoring land and water habitats. But some agricultural practices can pollute the Bay.

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Forests provide important ecosystem services, from clean water to wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, human activities have altered the region’s forests, fragmenting habitat and reducing tree cover.

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Urban / Suburban

More than 17 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. A large population requires a large amount of infrastructure, which can increase pollution in the Bay and its tributaries.

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