Streams Bring Life to a Watershed
The Chesapeake Bay watershed includes all the land, rivers, creeks and streams that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. There are more than 100,000 miles of streams and creeks in this watershed and virtually everyone living here lives within a half-mile of a stream or creek that eventually flows into the Bay.
Streams shape our landscape. Flowing water transforms land features, transporting and depositing soil from one place to another. Deposited onto a flood plain, these mineral-rich soils are highly prized as farmland. Streams are an important source of freshwater for our reservoirs.
Our wildlife depends on these waterways. Streams provide spawning and breeding habitat for fish and other wildlife like aquatic insects, turtles, frogs, toads and salamanders. The land alongside streams is also important as habitat for amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Known as riparian habitat, these areas provide food, water, shelter and shade.
People’s activities on the land have seriously degraded the Nation’s waterways. Sediment from runoff and in-stream erosion are the primary sources of non-point source pollution in our Nation’s waterways. At least 92 percent of rivers and streams are so altered that they no longer fit the criteria for National Wild and Scenic Rivers. These alterations also result in a loss habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed reflects this national picture. Fifty percent of the stream miles lack sufficient buffers, and many, if not most, of lowland streams have been physically altered by 300 years of agriculture and development.
Stream Habitat Assessment and Restoration Team
To address stream resource issues, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Chesapeake Bay Field Office (CBFO) has developed the Stream Habitat Assessment and Restoration team which provides assistance to landowners and local, state, and federal agencies in evaluating and restoring stream systems. The Team promotes a comprehensive and function-based approach to conduct watershed and natural stream restoration activities that preserve trust species and high priority biological habitats of the United States. To achieve this, the stream team focuses on three core objectives:
View Stream Protocols/Tools, Stream Projects, and Factsheets.