Save the forests and you might save the Bay

By Craig Highfield

This month marks the completion of my first year coordinating the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's Forestry for the Bay, an education and outreach program that promotes sustainable forest management to private landowners.

Although I have been steeped in Bay issues for many years, 2008 has given me the opportunity to delve into an area that I believe has not received enough recognition or resource allocation within restoration efforts: the conservation and management of private forestland.

There is little debate as to the crucial function our forests provide for the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Our forests prevent more than 180 million pounds of nitrogen from reaching the Chesapeake Bay each year. That's more than three times the annual nitrogen reductions from all sources over the last 20 years.

In addition, forests provide other vital services such as cleaning the air and filtering drinking water, reducing stormwater flow, providing habitat, providing recreation and contributing to the economy.

Forests also sequester large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. read more

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