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Chesapeake Bay and Virginia

Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay

Stream crossing for cattle on Poague Run near Staunton, VA.
Stream crossing for cattle along Poague Run in Staunton, VA.

Virginia is one of six states that directly impact the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The other states are Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New York and West Virginia. Virginia has 15.3 million acres of land (approximately 56 percent of the state) in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Over half of Virginia's streams and rivers flow to the Bay. Almost three-fourths of the state's 8.5 million residents live within the watershed.  

Agriculture accounts for about 28 percent of the land use in the Bay Watershed with Virginia's top eight agricultural counties located either entirely or partially within its boundary. From largest to smallest in farm sales, these counties are Rockingham, Augusta, Accomack, Page, Shenandoah, Amelia, Northampton, and Orange (Source: Virginia Farm Bureau). 

The type of agricultural operations vary widely throughout the watershed. In the Shenandoah Valley, there are small to medium dairies, poultry farms and grass-based beef operations. Central Virginia’s Piedmont region features a mix of beef and cash grain operations. The Coastal Plain is dominated by corn and soybeans, small grains, some vegetable production and an expanding nursery stock industry.

Conservation Assistance in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

NRCS provides technical assistance to help agricultural producers plan and apply conservation practices to improve water quality, restore wetlands, and enhance wildlife habitat. Farmers and forest landowners are using conservation systems that are reducing nutrient and sediment runoff by keeping soil in place and making agricultural lands more efficient and productive.

Most of the conservation work in Virginia focuses on controlling nutrients on livestock operations and croplands. Common practices include riparian buffers, fencing, water troughs, nutrient management, waste storage facilities and heavy-use area protection. Since 2009, NRCS and conservation partners have worked with Virginia farmers and forest landowners to install conservation systems on more than 1.2 million acres in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

View Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Progress Report to learn more about our conservation activities in the watershed. (pdf, 1.8 MB)

Conservation Partnerships

Conservation partnership projects are helping farmers reduce pollutants to the Chesapeake Bay.

Partner Links

Chesapeake Bay Map

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Chesapeake Bay in Virginia (jpg, 1.2MB)

Other Chesapeake Bay Watershed States

How can NRCS help me?


Patrick Vincent
NRCS Assistant State Conservationist - Programs
Phone: (804) 287-1642

Stacey Bradshaw
NRCS Chesapeake Bay Watershed Coordinator
Phone: (804) 287-1673