The second annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum was a huge success. It ran Oct. 12-14 and attracted more than 270 participants. The focus of the three-day session was population growth and development in the region.

The meeting took place at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. This idyllic setting is not only conducive to learning but it symbolizes the type of landscapes that we would like to preserve in our local watersheds.

The forum consisted of more than 25 different sessions in six tracks focusing on growth management, conservation, restoration, communications and advocacy, organizational development, and fund-raising. Specific workshops topics included: planning local development; low impact development; planning and executive restoration projects; reaching beyond the environmental choir; and building a better board.

Speakers' backgrounds included local watershed groups, regional groups, consulting firms, nonprofit management, accounting, fund-raising and others.

One of the highlights of the event was Saturday's keynote by Marty Kearns, president of Green Media Toolshed, who outlined web-based techniques for expanding the network of people engaged in watershed conservation.

This year there was an added focus on advocacy at the state and local level. Quite a buzz was generated by discussions on Maryland's proposed Green Fund, which would tax all impervious surfaces to address the growing impact of stormwater.

Another hot topic was biofuels. A luncheon session examined the positive and negative environmental implications of expanded on-the-farm biofuels feedstock production.

The Forum was sponsored by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Program, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

A third Chesapeake Watershed Forum will take place in 2008. Both the 2006 and 2007 forums sold out weeks before event, so keep your eyes out for the 2008 announcement and register early. We want to see you all at the 2008 Forum.