Susquehanna, Chesapeake Conservancy Formalize Relationship

Susquehanna University and the Chesapeake Conservancy have formalized their ongoing relationship through an agreement that ensures the organizations’ continued cooperation on restoration projects within the Susquehanna River watershed.

“Susquehanna and the Conservancy have enjoyed working closely together in shared space at the Freshwater Research Institute,” said Matt Wilson, director of the FRI. “I look forward to deepening and expanding our relationship with them as we pursue our mutual goal of improving the health of the Susquehanna River watershed and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.”

“I truly believe that the Conservancy’s partnership with the FRI’s staff and students has helped launch a new chapter in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts,” said Carly Dean, director of the Conservancy’s Chesapeake Tributaries Initiative. “Rooted in strong partnerships and data-driven decision-making, the Conservancy just launched our Chesapeake Tributaries Initiative to scale the approach bay-wide, based on what we’ve learned right here in central Pennsylvania.”

Moving forward, Susquehanna and the Conservancy will work together to:

  • Deliver applied research to inform local and state decision-makers while providing professional skill development for the next generation of conservation leaders.
  • Support restoration, prioritization and research to meet sediment load-reduction goals for the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Integrate Susquehanna students into research to determine the effectiveness of ongoing restoration projects.
  • Provide Susquehanna students with internship opportunities with Conservancy staff in support of Conservancy projects.
  • Implement and maintain restoration projects on campus, using these projects as teaching opportunities for students, staff and partners.

Susquehanna and the Conservancy have collaborated over the years to support research, education, environmental remediation and advocacy to improve the ecological health of the regional watershed, as well as the ways this work can be applied to restore the health of other nearby habitats.

For the past six years, five members of the Conservancy’s staff have been hosted at Susquehanna’s FRI, thanks to seed funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The pilot program brought together dozens of partners to restore local streams using the Conservancy’s GIS-based precision conservation approach that was tested in the field by Susquehanna’s faculty and students. Together, the organizations have scaled the program to six Pennsylvania counties, secured partnerships with over 60 organizations, worked with over 75 students on data collection and processing, had over 50 student-led conference presentations, attracted over $25 million in private, state and federal funding to implement the strategy, with restoration completed or underway on 162 farms along 56 streams.

About Susquehanna’s Freshwater Research Institute

Susquehanna University’s Freshwater Research Institute is a collaborative that brings together scientists, educators, conservationists and restoration practitioners with the shared goal of improving the health of the Susquehanna River and its surrounding watersheds. The institute strives to provide a supportive and student-centered experience that equips Susquehanna’s undergraduates with the skills, knowledge and professional networks to achieve their personal career goals in the research, conservation and restoration of near- and in-stream habitats.

About the Chesapeake Tributaries Initiative

The Chesapeake Tributaries Initiative is a community-driven approach to achieve measurable, near-term conservation outcomes for local creeks and streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Restoring the Bay’s 100,000 small tributaries is key to restoring the Chesapeake as the watershed’s land-to-water ratio is 14:1, the largest of any of any of the large enclosed coastal water bodies in the world. With all of that land draining into very little water by comparison, stringing together high-value projects is the fastest way to see an improvement in fish, bug and wildlife habitat. There is a lot of good work underway — the Tributaries strategy aims to amplify this momentum by boosting coordination and funding to restore streams back to health. 

About the Chesapeake Conservancy

Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to conserve and restore the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. We partnered to help create 206 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Fort Monroe National Monument, Elktonia Beach and Pissacoack along Fones Cliffs on the Rappahannock River.