Bay Journal

Topics: Conservation + Land Use

Wall Street, government need to put more stock in Bay’s economic value

I was lucky enough to grow up in the 1980s catching frogs, hooking sunfish, and exploring the mossy banks of Walden Pond, which Henry Thoreau turned into a symbol of nature and the need to protect it. There, I found the inspiration that led me toward a career in conservation that eventually brought me to the Chesapeake.

Today, I still find inspiration from Walden Pond, but now in the form of the book, From Walden to Wall Street, by James Levitt, which was published back in 2005. Ahead of its time, the book predicted that the future of the planet depends on private capital for conservation.

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About Conservation + Land Use

Since colonial times, no change to the Chesapeake ecosystem has been greater than the alteration of its landscape. A vast expanse of forest once absorbed most of the rainfall and held most of the sediment in place.

Over time, the forests have been replaced with farms and development, all of which have greatly increased the amount of runoff and pollution reaching streams and the Chesapeake Bay. While forests still comprise the greatest land use in the region, they have been greatly altered, consisting of smaller trees and lacking many of the species — such as American chestnut — that were common in the past.

The rapid rate of development in recent decades has accelerated the spread of impervious surfaces such as roads, roofs and parking lots, dramatically increasing runoff and degrading stream health throughout the region. Conservation efforts are underway to identify, and protect, some of the high priority landscapes and resources that remain.

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