With this region’s human population approaching 18 million and climbing, and tens of thousands of acres of open space vanishing each year, it is critical that we take advantage of opportunities for large landscape conservation. With such development demands in the region, there are real fears that generations from now, our children’s children will have little concept of what the Chesapeake Bay looked like when Captain John Smith explored the area and met the American Indians who lived here over 400 years ago. We must find ways to conserve large tracts of land in the Chesapeake.

When Congress created the John Smith Chesapeake Trail, it created opportunities for federal funding and conservation efforts in this region. The trail connects with 16 national wildlife refuges, 12 national parks, and three other national trails, and it serves as a framework for large landscape conservation. We also work to protect some of the trail’s most beautiful sights under threat, places like Fones Cliffs, a pristine eagle habitat on the Rappahannock River, and to stop powerlines from destroying the viewshed and historical setting on the James River near historic Jamestown. Our Envision the James and Envision the Susquehanna collaborative programs continue to engage communities and individuals to help create a common vision for each river to benefit present and future generations.

We also collaborate through the Department of Defense (DOD) Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) Program to conserve lands located within the newly designated Naval Air Station Patuxent River and Atlantic Test Ranges Sentinel Landscape in Southern Maryland and along the Nanticoke River.

Using a unique river by river approach, the Chesapeake Conservancy works to conserve the landscapes and special places that sustain the Chesapeake’s unique natural and cultural resources. Working collaboratively with our partners, we are employing new technologies and data to better identify our natural and cultural resources, developing community-based river corridor initiatives to establish conservation priorities, and creating new protected lands and access areas to conserve the resources needed to achieve environmental sustainability and economic well-being for the region.