Chesapeake Bay Executive Order
Protection and Restoration

Federal Strategy for Chesapeake Launches Major Initiatives and Holds Government Accountable for Progress

May 12 2010

Download the Executive Summary (872.17 kb)

Download the Full Strategy (7.79 mb)

The new federal strategy for the Chesapeake region released today focuses on protecting and restoring the environment in communities throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed and in its thousands of streams, creeks and rivers. The strategy includes using rigorous regulations to restore clean water, implementing new conservation practices on 4 million acresof farms, conserving 2 million acres of undeveloped land and rebuilding oysters in 20 tributaries of the bay. To increase accountability, federal agencies will establish milestones every two years for actions to make progress toward measurable environmental goals. These will support and complement the states’ two-year milestones. 

The “Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” was developed under the executive order issued by President Obama in May 2009, which declared the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure and ushered in a new era of shared federal leadership, action and accountability. 

The strategy deepens the federal commitment to the Chesapeake region, with agencies dedicating unprecedented resources, targeting actions where they can have the most impact, ensuring that federal lands and facilities lead by example in environmental stewardship and taking a comprehensive, ecosystem-wide approach to restoration. Many of the federal actions will directly support restoration efforts of local governments, nonprofit groups and citizens and provide economic benefits across the Chesapeakeregion. 

“This strategy outlines the broadest partnerships, the strongest protections and the most accountability we've seen in decades. It's a new era for our work on the Chesapeake Bay,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who chairs the Federal Leadership Committee for the Chesapeake.“Through President Obama's leadership and the commitment of many active stakeholders, we have an historic opportunity to restore the environmental health of these waters and the vibrant economy of this community.” 

To restore clean water, EPA will implement the Chesapeake total maximum daily load (a pollution diet for the Chesapeake Bayand local waterways), expand regulation of urban and suburban stormwater and concentrated animal feeding operations and increase enforcement activities and funding for state regulatory programs. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide farmers and forestowners throughout the bay watershed with the resources to prevent soil erosion and keep nitrogen and phosphorous out of local waterways. USDA will target federal funding to the places where it will have the greatest water quality impact and ensure that agricultural producers’ conservation efforts are accurately reported. USDA will also lead a federal initiative to develop a watershed-wide environmental services market that would allow producers to generate tradable water quality credits in return for installing effective conservation practices.  

“A thriving, sustainable agricultural sector is critical to restoration of the Chesapeake Bay,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We will help the bay watershed’s farmers and forest owners put new conservation practices on 4 million acres of agricultural lands so that agriculture can build on the improvements in nutrient and sediment reductions that we have seen over the last 25 years.” 

Conserving 2 million acres of natural areas, forests and farmland preserves the environmental, recreational, cultural and economic benefits these lands provide. To protect priority lands, the Department of the Interior will launch a collaborative Chesapeake Treasured Landscape Initiative and expand land conservation by coordinating federal funding and providing community assistance. Interior will also develop a plan for increasing public access to the bay and its rivers.           

“Under the leadership of President Obama, our strategy provides the blueprint for finally restoring the Chesapeake Bay to health – its bountiful wildlife, abundant fish and shellfish, beautiful waterways and rich wetlands,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “My department, which has 13 refuges and 51 units of the National Park System throughout the watershed, will play a key role in the plan, working hand-in-hand with other federal agencies, states, local communities and other stakeholders to restore this national treasure cherished by so many.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will launch a bay-wide oyster restoration strategy in close collaboration with Maryland and Virginia that focuses on priority tributaries, expands commercial aquaculture and bolsters research onoyster stock, habitat and restoration progress. Oysters are among the bay’s most struggling species and restoration in 20 tributaries will yield great environmental and economic benefits. 

"Oysters are a key species for Chesapeake Bay restoration. Not only are they important to seafood lovers, but they cleanse water and form reef habitat," said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. "It is critical that we apply our best science toward native oyster restoration and habitat protection, as well as toward development of sustainable aquaculture. Ecosystem-based approaches to management will enable progress toward a healthy, sustainable Chesapeake ecosystem that will include oysters for generations to come.” 

Several overarching approaches in the strategy are also important:

Short-term action: To accelerate the pace of restoration and protection, many actions occur in the next few years, and many of the actions are “on-the-ground” and “in-the-water” all around the Chesapeake watershed.

Supporting local efforts: The strategy is designed to directly support the restoration activities of local governments, watershed groups, county conservation districts, landowners and citizens.

Benefiting economies and jobs: Many actions will provide economic benefits, including conservation of working farms, expanded oyster aquaculture, support for conservation corps programs and green jobs, and development of an environmental marketplace for selling, buying and trading credits for pollution reductions.

Targeting of resources: Agencies will be aggressively targeting resources where they can have the most impact – areas with the most pollution and potential for runoff, with the highest potential for restoring fish and wildlife, and with habitats and lands most in need of protection.

EPA Release Final Guidance on Federal Land Management

May 12 2010

Chesapeake Bay Executive Order Section 502 calls upon the Administrator of EPA to publish guidance for federal land management in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. EPA’s objective in developing the guidance is to provide the information that will allow federal agencies to lead by their example.  The guidance provides information and data on appropriate proven and cost-effective tools and practices for implementation on federal lands and at federal facilities.

From the perspective of land management and water quality restoration/protection, this set of “proven cost-effective tools and practices that reduce water pollution” is also useful for nonfederal land managers to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.  These tools and practices, when implemented broadly, would significantly advance the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

Extensive studies of the Chesapeake Bay indicate that the great majority of nonpoint sources in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will need to be controlled, and controlled well, in order to restore the Bay. Accordingly, this guidance has chapters addressing the categories of nonpoint source pollution from federal land management activity in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that are sources of nutrients and sediments currently contributed to the Bay.  The categories of activity addressed in this guidance are agriculture, urban and suburban, including turf, forestry, riparian areas, decentralized wastewater treatment systems, and hydromodification.

Each chapter contains one or more "implementation measures" that provide the framework for the chapter.  These are intended to convey the actions that will help ensure that the broad goals of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order can be achieved.  Each chapter also includes information on practices that can be used to achieve the goals; information on the effectiveness and costs of the practices; where relevant, cost savings or other economic/societal benefits (in addition to the pollutant reduction benefits) that derive from the implementation goals and/or practices; and copious references to other documents that provide additional information.

The guidance is available at

Draft Guidance Released on Reducing Water Pollution to Chesapeake Bay

March 22 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released draft guidance for federal lands management in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that describes the most effective tools and practices to reduce water pollution. In addition to federal lands, the guidance addresses a variety of nonpoint sources, including agricultural lands, urban and suburban areas, and septic systems.

The draft guidance, which is required by the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order, provides federal land managers with a guide to implementing the best proven tools and practices to restore and protect the region’s waterways and the Bay. The same techniques can be utilized by states, local governments, conservation districts, watershed organizations, developers, farmers and citizens in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The cost-effective tools and practices outlined in the document are indicated by current scientific and technical literature to be the most state-of-the-art approaches to reduce water pollution from nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

“EPA expects the tools and practices described in this draft guidance to help the federal government lead by example at its facilities and on its land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva. “States can also use this guidance as a valuable tool to help determine the most effective measures to achieve the pollution reduction goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.”

Public comment on the draft guidance will be accepted for 30 days. EPA will then revise the document for release with a strategy for Chesapeake Bay protection and restoration in May 2010. The draft guidance is available at

The key areas in which the Executive Order draft guidance defines next-generation tools and practices are:

Agricultural on Federal Lands: The draft guidance focuses on significantly expanding on practices and actions that control the delivery of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from agriculture by employing a whole-farm nutrient management planning approach, including source control and avoidance, in-field control, and edge-of-field trapping and treatment. The tools and practices presented build from the most recent, state-of-the-art literature in nutrient management planning and provide information on reducing pollution from both livestock production on animal feeding operations and row crop agricultural lands.

Development on Federal Lands: In the draft guidance, EPA emphasizes that hydrology is the principal driver of water quality impairments in developed and developing areas. EPA establishes a primary focus on maintaining and restoring predevelopment hydrology to the maximum extent technically feasible. The draft guidance presents background information, data, examples and resources that demonstrate how to implement low-impact development and other green infrastructure techniques that infiltrate, evapotranspire and use stormwater onsite.

Reducing nonpoint source pollution is one of the greatest challenges to restoring water quality in the region’s streams, creeks and rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Some relevant facts include:

  • In addition to contributing 31 percent of phosphorus loads and 11 percent of nitrogen loads to the bay, urban and suburban runoff and stormwater sources are the only significant pollutant source that is increasing.
  • On a per-acre basis, construction sites can contribute the most sediment of all land uses – as much as 10 to 20 times that of agricultural lands.
  • Almost half of all the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution delivered to the Chesapeake Bay are from agricultural sources, including both livestock production and row crop land.

Draft Environmental Goals and Outcomes Released

March 19 2010

As part of developing a new strategy for restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay, President Obama's Executive Order directs the federal government to “define environmental goals for the Chesapeake Bay and describe milestones for making progress toward attainment of these goals.”

Federal agencies have released a document that includes a draft vision for a restored Chesapeake Bay watershed, environmental goals and measurable outcomes of planned actions. Since these elements were not included in the draft strategy released in November 2009, the federal agencies committed to release a goals framework for public review prior to issuance of the final strategy in May 2010. The document does not include all of the actions that were outlined in the draft strategy released in November 2009 or that will be included in the final strategy due in May.

To maintain coordination and consistency with current restoration activities of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s federal and state partners, existing measures of health and restoration were used as the starting point for the Executive Order goals and outcomes. Some refinements were made to existing measures to better address the needs of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and reflect expanded federal action. More details on the draft goals and measurable outcomes are available in the appendix.

Public feedback on the draft vision, goals and measurable outcomes is essential, and comments can be submitted by April 2, 2010. The draft vision, goals and measurable outcomes will be modified based on public feedback and a revised version will be paired with detailed actions in the final strategy to be released by May 12, 2010.

Read the Draft Executive Order Goals Framework.pdf

Draft Strategy for Chesapeake Bay Focused on Federal Action and Accountability

November 09 2009

Downloads: Executive Summary (3.01 mb) | Full document (11.26 mb)

Provide comments (Deadline: January 8, 2010)

Expanded action and increased accountability by the federal government are the focus of a draft strategy for restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay required by President Obama’s Executive Order. To accelerate efforts and track progress, federal agencies are committing to meet milestones every two years, leading to all activities needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and watershed being in place no later than 2025.

The draft strategy, released today, contains a comprehensive package of federal initiatives to restore clean water, conserve treasured places, protect fish and wildlife, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These objectives will be accomplished by empowering local efforts, making decisions based on science and forging a new era of federal leadership and accountability. Close collaboration of efforts with the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the District of Columbia will also be critical.

“President Obama has declared that the Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and committed to a robust cleanup effort. Setting two-year benchmarks for progress will ensure that our actions are getting the results the President and the public expect,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This is the broadest and most publicly accountable cleanup effort ever seen on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. It’s time for a new era of decisive federal leadership, and new partnerships with state government, nonprofits, the private sector and residents who have all been working to create a cleaner Bay.”

Public comment on the draft strategy is important to the federal agencies and will shape the final strategy. The formal public comment period is from November 9, 2009 to January 8, 2010. The draft strategy will evolve significantly through public comments, state consultations and agency revisions before the final strategy is published in May 2010.

To restore clean water, EPA will create a framework for performance and accountability to guide federal and state pollution control programs, and expand regulatory tools to reduce pollution from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and urban and suburban runoff. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will intensively target voluntary conservation incentives at high priority areas. New emphasis is also placed on improving stormwater management on federal land and reducing polluted runoff from transportation infrastructure.

“Maintaining healthy, sustainable farms and forests is an essential component to protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Our focus is on increasing economic viability, strengthening markets for local foods, improving water quality and protecting the natural landscape.”

The draft strategy contains numerous initiatives to conserve natural places, animal habitats and fish and wildlife. For example, the Department of the Interior will pursue development of a Chesapeake Treasured Landscapes Initiative to support state and local efforts to conserve and restore the environmental, historic, cultural and recreational value of many of the region’s wetlands, river corridors and open spaces. The department will look for opportunities to expand or create new units of the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers system and National Historic Trails system.

“Our proposed initiative will build upon the existing partnerships with states, local communities, conservation organizations and other stakeholders to undertake projects that will not only conserve the Chesapeake Bay but will lead to its restoration as one of the great natural wonders of our country,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “We have a big toolbox full of conservation actions and we plan to use it.”

One challenge to restoration is climate change, which scientists project will have a variety of impacts on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, including rising sea levels, warmer water and air temperatures, and stronger storms. NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey are leading the development of the federal strategy for adapting to climate change impacts in the Bay.

“Science shows that Chesapeake Bay habitats and living resources are already being affected by climate change,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “We need to adapt to climate change to ensure that the places and things we care about – like wetlands that serve as nurseries for fish and crabs and coastal communities that are vulnerable to sea level rise – can be addressed in our restoration efforts.”

NOAA and the Army Corps of Engineers will also lead a revitalized effort to recover native oyster reefs and establish self-sustaining native oyster reef sanctuaries in key tributaries by 2020.

The draft strategy emphasizes the need to empower local efforts because local governments, watershed organizations and residents have a great interest and ability to restore the environment. Federal agencies will expand technical assistance and resources, and support development of innovative technologies to reduce pollution and economic markets for ecosystem services. A Chesapeake Conservation Corps will be pursued to increase citizen stewardship, and public education will engage people in protecting local waterways.

Federal agencies have also developed a suite of accountability and transparency measures, led by ChesapeakeStat, an online tool that will identify restoration projects, funding and progress, and be publicly accessible. The draft strategy also calls for an annual plan for spending; reporting on environmental health and restoration progress, potentially through the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Bay Barometer; and an independent evaluation of federal efforts.

On May 12, President Obama issued Executive Order 13508 on Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Protection, the first-ever presidential directive on the Bay and the first environmental Executive Order by President Obama. The order established a Federal Leadership Committee, chaired by EPA, and with senior representatives from the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior and Transportation. These agencies generated draft reports in September 2009 with recommendations for addressing issues such as water quality, public access, landscape conservation, climate change, scientific monitoring and the protection of living resources. These draft reports were integrated into the draft strategy, which must be finalized by May 12, 2010.

Instructions for the providing public comments are contained in the Federal Register notice at

Revised Reports Available

November 08 2009

The Chesapeake Bay Executive Order required federal agencies to develop a series of seven reports on recommendations for addressing key challenges facing the Bay and its watershed. The draft reports were released to the public on September 10, 2009. The draft reports were then reviewed by the Federal Leadership Committee (FLC) for the Chesapeake Bay, in consultation with relevant state agencies. The reports were revised to reflect consideration of the comments received during state consultation and preliminary public input. The revised reports were released on November 24 and are available below.

After the public comment period ends on January 8, 2010, the federal agencies will review public comments on the draft strategy and revised reports. The comments will be taken into consideration as the FLC develops the final strategy.  However, the committee does not anticipate revising the reports based upon public comments received. The FLC plans to use comments received on the reports to help inform the development of the final strategy.

202a Water Quality Report.pdf (2.69 mb)

202b Targeting Resources Report.pdf (3.34 mb) 

202c Federal Stormwater Report.pdf (1.01 mb)

202d Climate Change Report.pdf (2.08 mb)

202e Access & Landscapes Report.pdf (1.87 mb)

202f Scientific Support Report.pdf (1.17 mb)

202g Habitat & Living Resource Report.pdf (1.55 mb)

Draft Reports Available

September 10 2009

Federal agencies have released seven draft reports on protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

Read the overall executive summary. 

Executive Summary Draft Reports EO 13508.pdf (356.15 kb)

These draft reports make recommendations on how to:

(a) define the next generation of tools and actions to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and describe the changes to be made to regulations, programs, and policies to implement these actions (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

(b) target resources to better protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary waters, including resources under the Food Security Act of 1985 as amended, the Clean Water Act, and other laws (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

(c) strengthen storm water management practices at Federal facilities and on Federal lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and develop storm water best practices guidance (U.S. Department of Defense)

(d) assess the impacts of a changing climate on the Chesapeake Bay and develop a strategy for adapting natural resource programs and public infrastructure to the impacts of a changing climate on water quality and living resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed (U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior)

(e) expand public access to waters and open spaces of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from Federal lands and conserve landscapes and ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed (U.S. Department of Interior) 

(f) strengthen scientific support for decisionmaking to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, including expanded environmental research and monitoring and observing systems (U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior)

(g) develop focused and coordinated habitat and research activities that protect and restore living resources and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed (U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior).

Input from the public is critically important to the federal agencies that are creating new approaches for restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay. When a draft strategy and revised reports are released on November 9, the formal public comment period will begin. But until then, feedback can be submitted by using the form below. Also available is the option to share thoughts on any entry on this website simply by clicking on the "feedback" link after the entry. The federal agencies will receive and consider feedback posted on this website. However, they will not respond individually to each person who offers comments. The public will have the opportunity to submit formal written comments for the record beginning November 9

202(a) Water Quality Draft Report

September 10 2009

202(a) Define the next generation of tools and actions to restore water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and describe the changes to be made to regulations, programs, and policies to implement these actions (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

202(a) Water Quality Draft Report Executive Summary.pdf (128.20 kb)

202(a) Water Quality Draft Report.pdf (1.59 mb)

Media contact: Brendan Gilfillan, 202-564-2081, 

202(b) Targeting Resources Draft Report

September 10 2009

202(b) Target resources to better protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary waters, including resources under the Food Security Act of 1985 as amended, the Clean Water Act, and other laws (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

202(b) Targeting Resources Draft Report Executive Summary.pdf (29.41 kb)

202(b) Targeting Resources Draft Report.pdf (1.99 mb)

Media Contact: Caleb Weaver, 202-720-4623,

202(c) Federal Stormwater Management Draft Report

September 10 2009

202 (c) Strengthen storm water management practices at Federal facilities and on Federal lands within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and develop storm water best practices guidance (U.S. Department of Defense).

202(c) Federal Stormwater Draft Report Executive Summary.pdf (19.88 kb)

202(c) Federal Stormwater Draft Report.pdf (1.06 mb)

Media contact: Rob Baarson, 703-693-1785,