There are more than 1.5 million acres of wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, or about 4 percent of the 64,000-square-mile basin.

Most of the wetlands are nontidal, freshwater wetlands; only 200,000 acres are estuarine wetlands.

About 40 percent of the wetlands are in Virginia, with another 27 percent in Maryland. New York and Pennsylvania account for another 11 and 14 percent of the watershed's wetlands, respectively. Delaware and West Virginia combined account for 7 percent of the watershed's wetlands.

Last fall, the Chesapeake Executive Council - the governors of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania; the mayor of the District of Columbia; the EPA administrator and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission - signed an agreement committing them to writing jurisdiction-specific strategies for achieving "net gain" wetland goals by this fall's Executive Council meeting.

At a minimum, the strategies have to show how each jurisdiction will replace every acre of wetland lost each year "with an acre of wetland of similar ecological value." The strategies will be updated in 2000, and every five years thereafter.