Greener Landscapes For A Healthier Chesapeake Bay in 2013

Susquehanna River, PA

Susquehanna River, PA | Jayme Frye

Green infrastructure investments are one of the few spotlights in the State of the Bay report released by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) for the New Year. Promotion and support of green infrastructure solutions for managing stormwater is also identified in the Action Plan [PDF] for federal resource agencies with jurisdiction in the Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay is an ecologically diverse resource sustained by a vast network of rivers in some of the nation’s oldest states. About the time our nation celebrated its bicentennial, the impacts of a growing nation on the health of the Bay were first recognized, ultimately leading to significant investments for Bay restoration.

Remarkably, CBF reports a D+ score for the health of the Bay with only four of 13 indicators demonstrating positive gain since the last report in 2010. Protecting resource lands is one indicator that is improving and providing benefit to the Bay.

In Pennsylvania, CBF reports, 13,000 acres of farmland were preserved in 2011 and 37,000 acres of forest cover was added last year. Forested landscapes [PDF] help reduce pollution and flooding to rivers.

Increased tree canopies in urban areas deliver multiple benefits including slowing and reducing stormwater runoff to city storm drains and wastewater treatment plants. To help eliminate sewage overflows into the Bay watershed, the City of Lancaster is pursuing a ‘green plan’ that proposes increasing the current 28% tree canopy to 40%. This is a fundamental green infrastructure practice that can be cost effectively implemented in towns throughout the Bay watershed.

In stormwater programs, the value of green infrastructure practices including an urban tree planting, can be calculated by municipalities such as Lancaster. We know green infrastructure is valued [PDF] by Bay communities. A couple years ago we advocated for a ‘green first’ approach toward distributing available water infrastructure funding in Pennsylvania.

Today, it is clearer than ever that funds are limited and innovative financing solutions will need to accompany innovative stormwater management with green infrastructure. Municipalities in Pennsylvania’s Bay region can join American River’s webinar series to learn more about funding and financing green infrastructure this winter.

  • Save the date for the first of these webinars:
    Brown Bag: February 5, 2013
    Time TBA

  • Email to learn more