|BROOKS, ROBERT - Consultant|
|FERNANDEZ, CORINA - Consultant|
|NASSRY, MICHAEL - Consultant|
|Veith, Tameria - Tamie|
|WALLACE, CARLINGTON - Consultant|
|HAGAN, ERIK - Pennsylvania State University|
|Saporito, Louis - Lou|
|HYBERG, SKIP - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)|
|IOVANNA, RICH - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)|
|CLAGGETT, SALLY - Us Forest Service (FS)|
|DURIANCIK, LISA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)|
Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2019
Publication Date: 8/15/2019
Citation: Kleinman, P.J., Brooks, R.P., Fernandez, C., Nassry, M., Veith, T.L., Mccarty, G.W., Wallace, C., Hagan, E., Saporito, L.S., Hyberg, S., Iovanna, R., Claggett, S., Duriancik, L., Tsegaye, T.D. 2019. Riparian forest buffers of the Susquehanna-Chesapeake Watershed: observations, assessments, and recommendations. Government Publication/Report. Pg. 1.
Interpretive Summary: USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the nation’s flagship private-land conservation program and has played a critical role in state and federal efforts to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. In the six states contributing to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, CRP has funded over 20,000 riparian (stream area) buffer contracts. To evaluate the performance of riparian buffers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a “One-USDA” project was implemented (USDA’s ARS, FSA, NRCS, FS) with support from a broader consortium of researchers that included scientists from US Geological Survey and Penn State. Led by LTAR’s Upper and Lower Chesapeake Bay sites, this study found that riparian forested buffers reduce nitrogen pollution by 17 to 56%, and phosphorus pollution by 4 to 20%, while riparian grass buffers were roughly equally effective. However, filtration of runoff by riparian buffers is regularly undermined by gullies and ditches that route runoff water around buffers, reducing the potential for buffers to treat runoff from adjacent lands by an average of 37% across the study area. Findings point to the need to bundle conservation practices, and programs, to optimize the performance of riparian buffers.
Technical Abstract: USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the nation’s flagship private-land conservation program. In the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, CRP’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) has played a critical role in state and federal efforts to improve the health of the Bay, having enrolled over 20,000 contracts across six U.S. states with the Susquehanna-Chesapeake Basin. Using targeted field investigations, state-of-the-art spatial analyses, and watershed modeling techniques, this project evaluated the performance of riparian forest buffers for improving water quality and documented the ecosystem services provided by CREP riparian buffers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Key findings include: • Establishment of riparian buffers through CREP diversifies the array of ecosystem services provided by agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and, as implemented, contributes positively to the goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. • To be effective, riparian buffers must be implemented as part of a comprehensive conservation system: Optimizing the performance of riparian buffers requires adaptive management that considers all practices available under CREP and coordinates with other conservation programs. • CREP riparian forested buffers reduce nitrogen pollution from the buffer region alone by 17 to 56%, and phosphorus pollution by 4 to 20%. Similarly, grass buffers reduce nitrogen pollution by 16 to 49%, and phosphorus pollution by 4 to 18%. In fact, CREP buffers frequently filter more than just agricultural runoff, treating runoff from suburban developments and highways among other sources. • Filtration of runoff by riparian buffers is often undermined by gullies and ditches that route runoff water around the buffer. On average, these features shrink the potential for buffers to treat runoff from adjacent lands by 37%. Targeting maintenance of concentrated flow features (short-circuiting) is key to improving the performance of CREP buffers.