Another 4.5 million people are expected to live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2050. Where will these additional people live? How will that affect, or be affected by, land conservation efforts?

This map illustrates the locations where development pressure is expected to be heaviest between now and 2050. Specifically, the map projects the percentage of currently developable unprotected land in each HUC 12 subwatershed that could be converted to development by 2050. The darker the orange, the higher the percentage. In contrast, the grey areas are likely to experience minimal residential/commercial development pressure.

Today over 18 million people call the Bay watershed home. By 2050, the population will likely increase to 22.5 million. Based on historic trends, most of these people are expected to live and work in and around major cities (e.g., Harrisburg, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, and Norfolk) and along major transportation corridors (e.g., I-81, I-95, I-66) as depicted in the map. Over 570,000 acres are projected to be developed to accommodate them, another 1.3% of the watershed. However, these trends could change due to emerging technologies (e.g., driverless cars), more flexible workplaces and schedules, changing cultural preferences, the construction of new roads, and other factors. Further, the location of additional land conservation through land protection or planning could substantially influence patterns of development.

Explore the web map here.