Want to Clean Up Chesapeake Bay? Plant Forest Buffers Upstream (Video)
Image credit: Green Treks Network
Back in 2009, the EPA was sued for "abdicating leadership" on protecting Chesapeake Bay. Part of clean water advocates' anger was directed at a lack of geographical targeting for agricultural conservation funding. But what does agricultural conservation have to do with protecting the bay anyway? We already know that forests play a crucial role in protecting clean water, but it is less well know that relatively small streamside tree plantings on agricultural land can not only help prevent agricultural run-off, and all the pollution it entails, but these forest buffers can also increase the capacity of the stream itself to process nitrogen and other contaminants.
Of course planting forests is not a panacea for all the problems associated with agricultural pollution. The video below documents the work of the Stroud Water Research Center on one small farm in the Chesapeak Bay watershed to implement best management practices including contour farming, terraces, and grass waterways that work in tandem with a swale (a ditch that runs along contours of a hill to capture rainwater in the ground), and a forested buffer to protect the stream.
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