Envision the Choptank

The Choptank River, the longest river on the Delmarva Peninsula, was once an area of abundant wetlands and thriving fisheries. However, since water quality monitoring began in 1965, conditions have steadily declined.

The health of the Choptank is threatened by poor water clarity, high nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, low dissolved oxygen, sea level rise, and development pressure, which in turn affect the river’s underwater grasses, marshes, and fisheries. Approximately 70% of the underwater grass beds throughout the entire Choptank River have vanished, and over 47,000 acres of wetlands have been lost in the upper Choptank sub-watershed alone. Despite these challenges, the Choptank remains a treasured part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, containing critical habitat for spawning striped bass and river herring, and historically abundant oysters.

In order to aid in the restoration of the Choptank, the Chesapeake Conservancy is teaming up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a collective impact framework for the Choptank watershed. Through this framework, the Conservancy is helping NOAA bring together the various organizations and agencies working throughout the watershed to develop a joint approach to solving the challenges facing the Choptank.

To create sustainable improvements, the effort will be heavily influenced by community engagement. As it has through its other Envision initiatives, the Conservancy will work with community groups to understand the needs and challenges faced by each and work collaboratively with its partners to identify solutions that address these challenges, while also benefitting our natural resources.

Ultimately, the Conservancy believes that finding common ground among the different objectives of the organizations, governments, community groups, and local citizens is the key to lasting improvements. Stay tuned for more updates on the exciting new Envision the Choptank initiative.