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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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What are BMPs?

Guidebook-DirectPrintCopyHaven-on-Bay, preserved property

This article is the first in a series of articles about Best Management Practices. In addition to background about BMPs, these articles will provide practical advice for implementing BMPs on your property. You also may download the full guide.

One special characteristic of the Eastern Shore that distinguishes it from other regions along the Atlantic coast is its close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. Home to thousands of species, the Bay is an impressively large body of water that has a contributing watershed stretching through six states and the District of Columbia. An estimated 17.5 million people live within the Bay watershed. Having such an extensive area of land that flows into it means the risk of becoming heavily polluted is much higher. It also makes it that much more important that there are open-space, low-development areas like the Eastern Shore. Instituting the proper protections in these areas is critical to improving the health of the Chesapeake. Landowners of eased lands on the Eastern Shore are in a position to meaningfully improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. By their nature, eased lands produce much less pollution because they restrict commercial and residential development. However, easement landowners can also improve water and environmental health by taking proactive actions. Best Management Practices (BMPs) is an overarching term that describes those proactive actions. BMPs optimize production on the land while reducing negative environmental impacts. BMPs are used in a number of different industries including forestry, oiland gas extraction, and water treatment.

In the context of water quality, “best management practices” refers to efforts meant to control water pollution. Traditionally, land development has been mainly concerned with stormwater retention and redirection. Without being treated for any pollutants, stormwater is sent directly into the nearest stream or river. This means any residual motor oil, trash, or fertilizers left on the pavement or fields will get washed into the streams causing harm to marine life and reducing water quality.

Now there is a push toward capturing pollutants in runoff before they enter local waters. Developers and engineers accomplish this through the use of landscape alterations such as rain gardens, bioretention facilities, and green roofs. These structures offset the effects of impervious surface development during heavy rainfall by providing a focal point where runoff pollutants will be filtered by layers of soil and plants. However, BMPs are not purely limited to structural efforts. The term also applies to nonstructural actions like monitoring water usage and controlling fertilizer and  chemical dispersal. These actions are just as Haven-on-Bay, preserved propertyeffective at improving water quality.

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