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The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is your connection to clean water, fresh air and healthy food. Learn to care for it, so it can care for you.

On the Farm:
1. Build Terraces
Farmers can reduce soil erosion on hilly cropland by constructing terraces or ridges across the hillside. Terraces break long slopes into shorter ones. As water makes its way down the hill, terraces act like small dams to intercept and slow down the flow of rainwater runoff and increase soil infiltration.

2. Plant Grassed Waterways

Many farmers use grassed waterways in their fields to provide a stable pathway for rainwater runoff. This helps prevent soil erosion. The grass slows down the movement of water, while its roots help hold the soil in place.

3. Farm Across Hills

By planting rows of crops along a slopes's natural curve, farmers can reduce soil erosion by as much as 50 percent compared to farming up and down the slope. Crop rows planted on the contour create hundreds of small dams that slow the flow of water and increase infiltration into the ground. This, in turn, reduces erosion and siltation of nearby waterways.

4. Fence Livestock
Livestock fencing protects shorelines from erosion caused by animal traffic. Fencing prevents livestock from trampling banks, destroying vegetation, and causing sediment to enter the stream. Farmers can provide additional water quality benefits by planting a streamside buffer of grass, shrubs, or trees to intercept and filter runoff, absorb excess nutrients, and provide valuable shade and habitat for aquatic life.

5. Provide Watering Troughs

Watering troughs provide a clean, reliable water supply for animals away from streams. This helps prevent streambank erosion caused by animal traffic.

6. Protect Stockpiled Manure

Animal waste placed in storage structures is protected from rainwater runoff and can be recycled as a fertilizer. This allows farmers to fertilize their fields when conditions are right and when crops can best use the valuable nutrients contained in the manure. Concrete in-ground structures or roofed above-ground structures are commonly used in Maryland.
Maryland Department of Agriculture

7. Plant Streamside Buffers

Streamside buffers of trees, shrubs, or grasses filter nutrients and other pollutants coming off the land. Trees and shrubs planted along a waterway also provide critical wildlife habitat while reducing water temperature in the stream.

8. Keep the Soil Covered

Bare soil is highly susceptible to erosion from wind and rainwater runoff. Farmers can help prevent soil erosion by leaving the stalks and leaves of harvested crops on their fields to create a natural mulch. This protective ground cover shields soil particles from rain and wind in the fall and winter until a new crop is planted.

9. Preserve Wild Areas

Most of the woodland conservation taking place in the United States occurs on private lands. By conserving forests, meadows, and other natural areas, farmers can provide wildlife with food and shelter. In addition, forests help improve water quality in our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay by filtering nutrients and other pollutants from surface runoff.

10. Create Wetlands

In the past, wetlands were seen as unimportant and even unpleasant sources of mosquitoes, flies, and odors. Today we know that wetlands play an important role in attracting wildlife, preventing flooding, and filtering agricultural and suburban runoff. Maryland's farmers can help preserve these unique and productive ecosystems by protecting or improving water levels in existing wetlands and planting native wetland vegetation to create new wetlands.

In the Community:
11. Pick Up After Your Pet
Be a good neighbor and a responsible pet owner. Pick up after your dog or cat to prevent pet feces from washing into nearby waterways or hitching a ride on a childs soccer shoe.

12. Use Fertilizers and Pesticides Sparingly

Homeowners have been quick to learn the benefits of fertilizers in sustaining beautiful lawns and gardens. But over-applying fertilizers is not good for plants or local waterways. Test your soil and apply only the amount of fertilizer your yard or garden needs. The same holds true for pesticides. Before reaching for the spray bottle at first sight of an insect, weed, or disease, try hand weeding or pruning infested plants. Also, get on how to attract beneficial insects to your garden to keep bad insects in check.

13. Plant Native and Beneficial Plants

Its smart to use native and beneficial plants that grow here naturally and are adapted to Marylands climate and soil types. Once established, natives and beneficials hold their own in most Maryland backyards with minimal care and maintenance. This reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides that may runoff and harm local waterways.

Maryland Department of Agriculture

14. Dont LitterRecycle Instead

Unfortunately, while recycling is on the rise, litter is making a comeback. Empty water bottles and sports drinks, juice boxes, beer and soda cans, fast food wrappers, cigarettes, and other discarded items line many roadside gutters where they can readily wash into storm drains that feed our streams, rivers, and ultimately the Bay. One of the easiest ways to help your watershed is to simply place litter where it belongsin a trash can or recycling bin.

15. Compost Yard Wastes

There are many ways to recycle. Homeowners can cut down on the amount of yard waste that gets hauled to our landfills by recycling leaves, grass clippings, and non-meat kitchen scraps for use in the garden. Composting is easy, improves soil composition, and makes a great fertilizer.

16. Conserve Water in the Garden

If you rely on the garden hose to keep your lawn green and your garden lush and attractive in dry weather, become a water-wise gardener. Use native and beneficial plants that dont require extra water, allow turf to go dormant during the hot, dry summer months, and use a rain gauge to monitor rainfall and reduce supplemental watering.

17. Walk or Ride Your Bike

Studies have shown that much of the Bays nitrogen pollution comes from cars. You can help protect water quality by walking or riding your bike, instead of driving. If you must drive, use public transportation or carpool.

At Your School:
18. Report Schoolyard Erosion Problems
Each year, millions of tons of soil wash into our streams and rivers every time it rains. Soil clouds the water, disrupts stream habitats, and transports oil, fertilizers, and pesticides from the land into our waterways. Encourage your school to seed or mulch bare areas on recreation fields or lawns to help control runoff, minimize soil erosion, and safeguard water quality.

19. Ask about Starting an Outdoor Classroom or Conservation Club

Learning to care for the natural world is everyones responsibility. Ask your science teacher about starting an outdoor classroom or conservation club at your school. Its a great way to meet new friends who share your concerns about the environment. Whats more, youll be making a real difference in your school and neighborhood.

20. Plant Wildlife Areas

Recreation fields and lawns do little to provide food, cover or nesting sites for wildlife. By planting a wildlife area at your school, you can help provide animals with the essentials for survival. Plant nut, seed, or fruit-bearing trees and native plants and shrubs to supplement the natural habitat that animals require for protection, breeding, and nesting. Existing vegetation can be supplemented with artificial nesting boxes and platforms. Ground cover alternatives such as wildflower meadows provide a colorful, low- maintenance alternative to lawns and create habitat for birds, butterflies, and small mammals.
Maryland Department of Agriculture