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Landscape Initiatives

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI)

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative was authorized in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill).  The Initiative provided assistance to agricultural producers to minimize the delivery of nutrients and sediments deposited into the Chesapeake Bay. The program offered producers financial and technical assistance to apply conservation practices addressing resource concerns, such as, water quality improvement, and reduction in soil erosion on eligible agricultural land.

The NRCS Chesapeake Bay Initiative has provided over $17 million of financial assistance to landowners.  This has enabled these agricultural producers to invest their own money, in combination with the NRCS financial assistance, to improve their livelihood and further protect their natural resources, and, in extension, the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to nearly 17 million residents and covers more than 64,000 square miles.  It is the largest estuary in the U.S. and is critical to the region’s economy, culture, and outdoor recreation. Fourteen percent of West Virginia watersheds drain into the Potomac, Shenandoah, and James Rivers discharging into the Chesapeake Bay. West Virginia has 11 counties included in the Chesapeake Bay drainage area:  Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan, Pendleton, and small portions of Preston, Tucker, and Monroe counties.

Since 2009, West Virginia NRCS has provided significant technical and financial assistance on more than 54,500 acres specifically related to the Chesapeake Bay Initiative.  Landowners have protected water quality by installing fences to keep livestock out of streams.  Conservation practices have been used to keep nutrients within the fields, reducing sediment entering nearby streams and rivers.  Improvements have also benefited wildlife by protecting streambanks from eroding and reduction of stream habitats.

These advances are complementary to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan, which outlines the state’s water quality improvements required to comply with Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations.


Specific funding for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative is no longer available.

Please contact your local NRCS Field Office for more information.