Healthy Watersheds Forest Retention Project Report Released in June 2017

On June 30, 2017, a project team from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Rappahannock River Basin Commission released “Healthy Watersheds Forest Retention Project Phases 1 and 2 Final Report.”

The report’s title page states that the project is “a Virginia and Pennsylvania partnership focused on expanding the use of forestland to meet Chesapeake Bay Watershed goals from the perspective of the local leaders who are responsible for making it happen.”  The Acknowledgments (page 8) describe the report as an effort “to answer two questions: Can we quantify the contribution of forestland in economic terms toward achieving Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals [under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, published by the U.S. EPA in 2010]; and if the value is significant, what needs to be done to incentivize forestland retention so that contribution is maximized?”  The report (page 10) asserts that it “validated the working hypothesis” that localities can realize “substantial savings” from retaining or increasing forestlands that, in turn, reduce the inputs of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediments to Chesapeake Bay waters.

The report includes sections on tax and fiscal policy tools that state and local governments can use to promote forestland.  A forestland ecosystem services literature review, prepared by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, is included as Appendix B of the report.

The 199-page report is available online at the VDOF main Web page,, as of July 2017; or click here for a direct link to a PDF of the report.

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