Chesapeake Bay Executive Order
Protection and Restoration

Draft Executive Order Combined Fiscal Year 2014 Action Plan and Fiscal Year 2013 Progress Reports available for public comment

March 18 2014

As required by Executive Order 13508, each year, the Federal Leadership Committee (FLC) for the Chesapeake Bay—composed of representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and Transportation—issues a Chesapeake Bay Action Plan and an annual Progress Report. This year, for the first time, the FLC has combined the two together into one report. The Action Plan covers fiscal year 2014, which runs from October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014, while the Progress Report covers actions achieved during fiscal year 2013, which ran from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013.

This Action Plan for 2014 and Progress Report for 2013 represents a collaborative effort across the federal government, in consultation with states and other partners, fulfilling the direction of the Executive Order “to ensure that federal actions to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay are closely coordinated with actions by state and local agencies in the watershed and that the resources, authorities, and expertise of federal, state, and local agencies are used as efficiently as possible for the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay's water quality and ecosystem and habitat health and viability.”

The report highlights key accomplishments as well as work still needed to be done to restore clean water, recover habitat, sustain fish and wildlife, and conserve land and increase public access. Collaborative actions will also enhance supporting efforts to expand citizen stewardship, develop environmental markets, respond to climate change, and strengthen science.

Comments on the combined report will be accepted here through March 31, 2014.

Download the report

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Federal Water Quality Two-Year Milestones

January 07 2014

The Chesapeake Bay Federal Leadership Committee's Water Quality Milestones have been finalized. This second set of federal two-year milestones for water quality applies to calendar years 2014 and 2015. The Executive Order (EO) 13508 Strategy calls upon federal agencies to join the Chesapeake Bay watershed jurisdictions in establishing two-year milestones, many of which are designed to support the jurisdictions in meeting their water quality milestones leading to the 2025 implementation goal.

The milestones were selected to represent the activities that have the potential to have significant environmental outcomes, that require significant resources, or that directly support the jurisdictions in meeting Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) commitments. The remaining 2014-2015 federal milestone goals will be outlined in the Chesapeake Bay EO 2014 Action Plan to be published in early 2014. Completion of the Water Quality Milestones at this time is also in accordance with an EPA settlement agreement with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Draft Chesapeake Working Lands Conservation Strategy

January 02 2014

USDA presents this draft of the Chesapeake Working Lands Conservation Strategy for public review and comment. This document supports the EO Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed which includes an outcome to permanently protect (i.e. through easements, etc.) an additional 2 million acres between 2010-2025, including 695,000 acres of high value forest land. USDA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the United States Forest Service (FS), collaborated with Bay states and other partners to produce this Strategy. This Draft Strategy emphasizes importance of protecting working lands to support environmental, economic, and community goals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including water quality goals and the Chesapeake TMDL. It also summarizes opportunities to strengthen working lands protection in the Bay, including recommended actions to advance these goals over the long term. Public comments are due to Julie Mawhorter by February 14, 2014.

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Eighteen New Public Access Sites Created in Chesapeake Region in 2012

July 16 2013
In 2012, Chesapeake Bay Program partners added eighteen new public access locations along the region’s waterways for public use and enjoyment, bringing the total number to 1,171 across the watershed.  Public access goals set through the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed called for adding 300 new sites where citizens can have a waterside experience, whether hiking, paddling, swimming, or fishing.  These eighteen new public access sites count towards meeting the goal of 300 new sites by 2025.  

Collaborative work to improve public access in the Chesapeake watershed is coordinated by the National Park Service and a Public Access Planning Action Team which includes staff from six states and the District of Columbia. The team developed a Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan with public participation in a series of regional meetings and also via an online tool to pinpoint locations of suggested access.
Read more or find public access sites on the Chesapeake Bay Program website.
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EPA Releases Model Program to Assist State Septic Programs in Managing Water Quality Impacts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

June 28 2013

EPA has released a model program for onsite wastewater treatment systems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help states more effectively prevent nutrients from entering the Bay from onsite or septic systems, which will improve water quality. When properly designed, sited and maintained, decentralized systems like septic systems can treat wastewater effectively and protect surface water and groundwater. Inadequately treated sewage from decentralized systems can pose risks to human health and the environment.

The model program is part of EPA’s effort to collaborate with state and local partners in promoting nitrogen reductions from onsite systems. The model program will help implement an executive order that President Obama signed in 2009 that recognized the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure and called on the federal government to lead a renewed effort to restore and protect the nation’s largest estuary and its watershed.

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NOAA releases Oyster Decision Support Tool

June 26 2013

The Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a new Oyster Decision Support Tool.  The tool is a map-based way to access information on oysters, oyster habitat, and oyster restoration projects in the Chesapeake Bay. Data for the ODST, which came from state and federal agencies working in the Chesapeake, scientists, academic institutions, and nonprofits, include: 

  • Maps and graphs of Maryland oyster disease, live oyster count, spatfall, and mortality levels at each oyster bar sampled, by year
  • Dates of oyster-related activities on each bar in Maryland and map layers showing where oyster restoration has occurred
  • Maps and graphs of modeled water-quality data (bottom salinity and temperature)
  • Seafloor mapping in Maryland and Virginia (describing various bottom types such as shell, sand, and mud)
  • Historic oyster reef boundaries (Named Oyster Bars in Maryland and Baylor Grounds in Virginia)
  • Maryland oyster sanctuary and reserve boundaries

More background on how the tool will help restoration efforts is available at the Chesapeake Bay Program website.

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Interim Assessments of 2012-2013 Water Quality Milestones

May 30 2013
EPA provided an interim assessment to the federal agencies of progress toward meeting their 2012-2013 water quality milestones set forth under the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order 13508 strategy. 
In addition, EPA provided its interim assessments to the seven Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions’ on their progress toward meeting their 2012-2013 Milestones and Watershed Implementation Plan goals.  These goals and milestones outline steps the Bay jurisdictions and federal agencies are taking toward having all the pollution control measures in place by 2025 to fully restore the Bay.
The jurisdictions’ interim assessments are available at the Chesapeake Bay TMDL website.

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Federal agencies show progress in efforts to restore Chesapeake Bay

March 28 2013

The Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake Bay issued its Fiscal Year 2012 Progress Report, highlighting extensive efforts undertaken last year by seven federal agencies charged with helping to protect and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay. 

“EPA and our other federal partners are pleased to report the tangible progress we’ve made over the past year, which will inform, guide and accelerate our collective actions going forward,” said Nick DiPasquale, Chesapeake Bay Program Director.  “The federal agencies and our partner jurisdictions are accountable to the citizens living near the local rivers and streams that also stand to benefit from this critical restoration work.  Through our commitments, the prospects for increased momentum and improvements to the Bay’s health should be encouraging to everyone.”

Federal agencies included in this report are the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, and Transportation.

Download the report.

Corps of Engineers releases Native Oyster Restoration Action Plan

February 14 2013

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia, along with their shared partners, has finalized the Native Oyster Restoration Master Plan. The master plan outlines the Corps’ strategy for large-scale oyster restoration throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Since the turn of the 20th century, oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay have declined dramatically, largely due to disease, overharvesting, loss of habitat, and degraded water quality. The long-term goal is to restore an abundant, self-sustaining oyster population that performs important ecological functions such as providing reef community habitat, nutrient cycling, spatial connectivity, and water filtration, among others, and contributes to the oyster fishery. The master plan will serve as a foundation, along with plans developed by other federal agencies, to work towards achieving the oyster restoration outcome established by the Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order (E.O. 13508) to restore native oyster habitat and populations in 20 tributaries by 2025. 

A draft version of the master plan was released for public comment in the spring of 2012, and the Corps hosted a series of public meetings to provide members of the community a chance to learn more about the master plan and oyster restoration opportunities, as well as provide input on the master plan.

The public meetings elicited a variety of comments that were taken into consideration when finalizing the master plan. Changes included the division of some of the larger tributaries into smaller segments, updates to cost projections, and the addition of the Elizabeth River into the evaluation.

To view the Native Oyster Restoration Master Plan, please visit:

Specific tributary plans recommended by the Corps’ master plan are currently being developed in coordination with the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the, The Nature Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

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Federal Agencies release Technical Report on Toxic Contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed

January 16 2013

A final report is available that summarizes existing information on the extent and severity of the occurrence of toxic contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.  The report also identifies research and monitoring gaps that could be considered to improve the understanding of the extent and severity of toxic contaminant occurrence.  Findings in this report will be used during 2013 by the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership to consider whether to adopt new goals for reducing inputs of toxic contaminants entering the Bay and watershed. Strategies for achieving any established goals will be developed by 2015.

The findings in this report are based on a review of integrated water-quality assessment reports from the jurisdictions in the Bay watershed (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.), Federal and State reports, and articles in scientific journals.  The authors focused on summarizing results of studies conducted mostly since 2000 and, in particular, the 2010 jurisdictional water-quality assessment reports were used to define the extent and severity of occurrence of the following contaminant groups:

  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Dioxins and Furans
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Petroleum Hydrocarbons
  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Household and Personal Care Products
  • Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
  • Biogenic Hormones
  • Metals and Metalloids

Download the report (6 MB .pdf file).

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