Bay-Wide Buffer Goals Fall Behind

 Chesapeake Bay Program figures show a drastic decline in annual forest buffer restoration since it's peak in 2005.

Chesapeake Bay Program figures show a drastic decline in annual forest buffer restoration since it's peak in 2005.

Riparian buffers help to reach local pollution reduction goals through their work in reducing polluted surface runoff. In 1996, the state-federal Bay Program partnership set a bold goal of planting 2,010 miles of riparian forest by 2010. The goal seemed difficult, but the region met and surpassed the challenge ahead of schedule in 2002, making the Bay a leader in restoration efforts across the nation.

But, the Chesapeake Bay Journal reports that streamside forest planting efforts throughout the watershed are falling by the wayside. According to figures from the state-federal Bay Program partnership, planting figures are at 1998 lows, and 2013 figures continue a downward trend that has persisted since 2007.

What could be causing this record drop-off? Officials in the subject cite many reasons, one of which being record-high prices for corn, wheat, and soybeans. This high makes farmers reluctant to take land out of production. Farmers may also be reluctant to some of the requirements in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program created by the USDA in 2010 which pays farmers to take land out of production and pays to have them "enhanced" with forest or grass buffers.

Learn more about what could be causing this record low and its effects on the Chesapeake Bay in the Chesapeake Bay Journal’s full article >

Want to do more to help the Chesapeake Bay and its decline of streamside, riparian buffers? Join Potomac Conservancy on Tuesday, May 20th in Emmitsburg, Maryland as we plant a streamside buffer on the Mount St. Mary’s University campus. Learn how to sign up on our events page>

The cover picture was taken by Chesapeake Bay Journal photographer Dave Harp.