Foundation Blog

Healthy forests - Healthy Waters

 The Maryland Forestry Foundation (MFF), in partnership with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, works closely with the Maryland Forest Service to implement our Healthy Forests, Healthy Waters Initiative to increase upland reforestation and riparian forest buffer projects on private and public lands throughout Maryland. To date, we have planted nearly 400,000 trees in 19 counties on almost 200 sites. The project has been funded since 2013 by the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust fund in the Department of Natural Resources Field staff work with participating landowners to develop personalized tree planting plans that match landowner goals and site conditions to achieve state-supported stewardship goals. Maryland’s unique county Forestry Boards assist in contacting participating landowners to help them understand and share how afforestation on their land enhances Bay watershed health. 

Increasing and enhancing forest cover on public and private lands is an essential strategy for achieving water quality and Maryland's other environmental, economic, and social objectives.  Tree planting is considered one of the best and least expensive BMPs for the Chesapeake Bay's long-term health. It has been a critical strategy to attain pollution reduction in Maryland's Phase I and II Watershed Implementation Plans. Despite the fact that innovative policies like the Forest Conservation Act, Critical Areas Law, the Sustainable Forestry Act, and  No loss Act, Maryland continues to lose forest cover, which significantly increases nutrient and sediment pollution to our waterways. Private land provides the most significant opportunity to exponentially increase forest cover in Maryland. Many landowners often lack the technical and financial resources to convert their open land to forest cover.  Our Healthy Forest Healthy Waters (HFHW) program offers Maryland landowners an opportunity to establish new woodland cover on their property that provides all Marylanders cleaner air and a myriad of other benefits. This year, the Foundation has also partnered with RES, a well-established stream restoration firm, to collaborate on a unique stream restoration project in Baltimore County. Based on several site visits in collaboration with the  Maryland Forest Service, Alliance and Foundation staff, and the RES project managers, the site was determined to combine excellent opportunities for buffer planting, stream restoration, and living resources with good accessibility and strong local support as an education site for the local Forestry Boards particularly from the central urban part of the state. Notably, the stream buffer's current state results in higher than optimal water temperatures for fish species such as trout. To flood mitigation includes several trout habitat considerations of broad interest to many landowners.