Habitats

In addition to the Overview information provided for Habitats, the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Workgroup has described their priorities and progress below. Throughout ChesapeakeStat, the descriptors of SAV and bay grasses are used interchangeably. Other important work is being conducted by the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership to restore habitats, including but not limited to restoring wetlands, streams, and oyster reefs. Additional information on these efforts will be included over time.

Historic Bay Grass Distribution used to set Bay-wide Abundance Goal of 185,000 acres: The segment specific SAV restoration goals were derived from the full record of mapped SAV data (from historical through year 2002 data) for the year in which a segment had the greatest amount of SAV acreage, referred to as the single best year. The SAV data were then clipped by the shoreline used to define the segments (any data not within a segment boundary was deleted) and further clipped by the segment’s water clarity criteria application depth.

Goals

The Chesapeake Bay Program Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Workgroup has reviewed the historic record and photographic evidence from 1930s to the present and determined that the Bay has historically supported approximately 185,000 acres of bay grasses, also referred to as SAV. In most cases, as water clarity improves, SAV will reestablish without the need for planting. However, there are places where the water clarity is sufficient, but there is no longer a seed source for SAV to naturally regenerate. Therefore, the workgroup endeavors to plant or seed 20 acres of SAV each year in order to provide seed sources and improve physical conditions for further SAV recruitment. This restoration target is intended to stimulate the natural bed growth required to eventually achieve the bay-wide abundance goal of 185,000 acres. Please refer to the maps below for the historic distribution used to set the bay-wide abundance goal and current status of bay grass abundance, both bay-wide and by segment.

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Why is SAV important?

SAV constitutes one of the most important biological communities in an estuary. SAV has historically contributed to the high primary and secondary productivity of the Chesapeake Bay, but increased nutrient and sediment inputs from development in the watershed caused bay-wide declines in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Who is the SAV Workgroup?

Since 1976, the workgroup has served the larger Bay community by providing technical expertise and applied research findings to resource managers in an effort to inform the restoration and protection agenda. Click here for more information on the SAV Workgroup membership.