City of Baltimore - A Comprehensive Forest Conservation Plan for the Reservoirs

Rob Northrop, DNR Forest Service

Forest land typically produces the highest quality water of any major land use, and as such, is a crucial component of maintaining drinking water quality in reservoirs. Protection of water quality at its source is by far the least expensive and most environmentally desirable method of providing clean water and maintaining reservoir capacity for public supplies. The goals of this project were to improve water quality, conserve regional biological diversity, and promote watershed stewardship in the reservoir watersheds of the Prettyboy, Loch Raven, and Liberty drainages, which are three of Maryland's Priority Category I Watersheds noted as most in need of restoration. A GIS analysis of lands watershed wide is being conducted to identify key lands for protection, restoration, or changes in management practices. A detailed data collection and planning effort was conducted on reservoir protection lands owned by the City of Baltimore; these lands are strategically located for water quality protection and will be used as demonstration areas for a public outreach element. The Comprehensive Forest Conservation Plan for these lands provides data on forest condition that can be analyzed at the stand and landscape level. Elements include overstory, understory and forest floor, road network, tree regeneration including experimental deer exclosures, and soils. A recreation element that included a user survey attempted to determine the levels of uncontrolled access occurring and whether this access for recreation was causing deterioration of forest resources. An outreach strategy was developed to convey the message of watershed stewardship to local residents

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