Field Report: Healthy Farms = Cleaner Water

Farmers throughout the Chesapeake watershed are working to plant trees and adopt other conservation and preservation measures to reduce pollution flowing to local rivers and streams and the Bay.
Photo by CBF staff

When you visit the Orvis Commitment page on, down in the lower right is “Our Partner Spotlight,” which calls attention to one of the many organizations that the company supports. This month’s featured partner is The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), whose mission couldn’t be clearer: “to save the bay, and keep it saved.” Here is their latest update:

Across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, farmers are stepping up, doing their part for cleaner water—planting streamside buffers, installing fencing to keep livestock out of streams, planting cover crops, and more. And, thanks to a generous grant from The Orvis Company, even more farmers in the region will get an opportunity to do the right thing for their farms and the bay. Over the next year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) will work one-on-one with agricultural landowners in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to plant streamside forests and implement other conservation practices on their working farms.

The Chesapeake Bay is North America’s largest estuary; its watershed covers 64,000 square miles and is home to more than 17 million people and 3,600 species of plants and animals. Poor water quality—from nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment pollution—has long plagued the iconic estuary, endangering the health of wildlife and humans and deflating the region’s economy.

This pollution comes from numerous sources: sewage treatment plants; animal feed lots; runoff from cropland, urban, and suburban areas; and air pollution from vehicle exhaust and industrial sources. However, the largest source of pollution to the Bay comes from agricultural runoff, which contributes roughly 40 percent of the nitrogen and 50 percent of the phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay.

That’s why CBF has placed a priority on partnering with farmers to accelerate pollution reductions. With Orvis’ support, CBF’s Farm Stewardship and Watershed Restoration Program will help reduce agricultural pollution and restore one of the Bay’s best natural filters—trees.

With Orvis, and the help of more than 1,000 community volunteers—like those above—CBF will plant native trees along 125 miles of local streams on agricultural lands.
Photo courtesy Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Trees that grow next to streams, or in ”riparian” areas, are especially important for protecting water quality—and improving habitat for aquatic species—because they act as a buffer between land and water. Streamside forests are highly effective at preventing numerous pollutants from reaching the water. A 100-foot-wide streamside forest can filter out 26 percent of the nitrogen in water flowing through it and 43 percent of the sediment.

Watershed-wide, farmers are working to plant trees and adopt other conservation and preservation measures to reduce pollution flowing to local rivers and streams and the Bay. But they can’t do it alone. Federal and state government investments in conservation practices are vital to helping farmers reduce pollution, remain profitable, and improve water quality. A primary source of conservation funding is the federal Farm Bill. Currently, the House and Senate are working on this legislation, looking for ways to cut spending. Unfortunately, critical conservation programs funded by the Farm Bill are likely to be first on the chopping block. Cutting these programs would put all of our hard work to improve water quality in the Bay and local rivers and streams at risk.

You can help. Sign a petition urging Congress to preserve these conservation programs and help us save the Chesapeake Bay and leave a legacy of cleaner water for our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.

Visit to learn more.

2 thoughts on “Field Report: Healthy Farms = Cleaner Water”

  1. We have a farm/ranch in Montana and although our funds are low for improvements, whenever we do make any, water conservation is a priority. Water is key to our animal health, plant growth and our own health. Thank you for doing your part in such a big way. BTW, we wear waders quite often out here and not just for fly fishing! Sometimes having them is a matter of life or death. If an animal gets stuck in a bog, waders are a must! Some of our fence repair runs through coulees filled with water and they only way to make repairs is with waders!!! My husband has them and my goal is to get a pair this year. Thanks again.

  2. Thank you for talking about this. In fact, I hope that every company in every country in the world will think about the well-being of the future population. I get the impression that our people think that after them no one will live on this planet and therefore anything can be done. And it is thanks to such initiative companies and people that we will still be able to exist normally and leave the land behind us. I always admire people who volunteer to improve the quality of our lives. Therefore, I thank everyone who can help and help us improve our planet.

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