Our Valued Lands

There are 64,000 square miles in the Chesapeake watershed, or 41 million acres of land. About 11 percent of that area is developed in cities, towns, homes, roads, businesses and industry. But we also rely on the remaining large portions of rest of the watershed to support our lives:

  • That is where we find 22 million acres of important forests that protect our water supplies and climate and help control flooding.
  • It is where we find 19 million acres of important wildlife habitat, much of it on those forested lands.
  • It includes 20 million acres of land that can support farming, including 7 million acres now being farmed. We rely on those working farms for food and supporting the economy — orchards, vineyards, wineries, crop and vegetable fields, dairies and more, plus the businesses they support.
  • It is also where we find 24 million acres of history, farms, forests, and habitat that represents our cultural and natural heritage — the places we have said are important to who we are as a people; that provide us with recreation, hunting, fishing, tourism and other vital economic sectors.

The “Our Valued Lands” map represents a composite of the Farms, Forests, Habitat and Heritage goals. This map depicts the full range of places we collectively value. Interestingly, each of these core values — farms, forests, habitat and heritage, equate to approximately half the watershed. We need to keep half the watershed in these conditions to make us whole. (Today, just under a quarter of the watershed–22 percent or 8.8 million acres–is permanently conserved. Our 2025 land protection goal will bring us to 24 percent.)

Explore the web map here