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Ecosystem Models

Some of the largest scale landscape projects encompass whole ecosystems or watersheds.  The environmental and land conservation world pioneered this kind of ecosystem thinking and recognized the critical interconnections between species and habitat. The field of natural resource management has developed a vast body of research and practice extending from the individual species level, to the characteristics of large watershed and the interrelationships of regional ecosystems. Concerns about biodiversity and climate change drive much of the work on large landscapes thinking.


Chesapeake Bay sunset, near Tilghman Island

Chesapeake Bay – The Chesapeake Bay is our nation’s largest estuary and its watershed stretches into six states covering 64,000 square miles. The Chesapeake Bay a national treasure have been memorialized in writing since the 1600s when Captain John Smith first explored the region. The Chesapeake Bay Program was created in 1983 as a partnership of the states and the Environmental Protection Agency to address issues of pollutants in the bay.  In 1998, legislation was enacted to establish a Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network to provide technical and financial assistance to parks, refuges, water trails, historic sites, and other organizations to help conserve, restore and interpret natural, recreational, historical and cultural resources within the watershed.  The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail Designation Act  (2006) commemorates John Smith’s momentous voyages of discovery and highlights the Chesapeake Bay’s remarkable maritime history, the diversity of its peoples, and its many recreational opportunities.

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan – The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan [CERP] was passed to restore the south and central Florida ecosystem, which includes the Everglades.  Initiated in 2000 the plan is based on a complex partnership with the major partners being the United States Army (Corp of Engineers), the Department of Interior (National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service) and the South Florida Water Management District.  The plan has been described as the world’s largest ecosystem restoration effort, and includes the goals of restoring natural flows of water, water quality, and more natural hydro-periods within the remaining natural areas. The planning region includes 16 counties and over 18,000 square miles. The planning process includes fast tracked planning, science based management, and implementation water restoration  projects.