Envision the Susquehanna

The Susquehanna River is the lifeblood of the Bay.  Sharing an ancient past, the Bay is actually an extension of the Susquehanna valley that the Atlantic Ocean has steadily flooded over the last 15,000 years.  The Susquehanna pours roughly 20 billion gallons of fresh water into the bay daily, contributing greatly to the Bay’s livelihood. 

Envision the Susquehanna: A Vision for the Susquehanna River Watershed

The Envision the Susquehanna initiative was launched by a core team comprised of the Chesapeake Conservancy, the National Park Service, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,  Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, and the Wildlife Management Institute in 2013. The core team as well as an advisory council of almost 40 organizations have encouraged individuals, community leaders and organizations to describe their vision for the Susquehanna River watershed. This report details the results of the initial planning process and lays out a vision for the future of the Susquehanna River.

You can read the Executive Summary on our website.


The Envision the Susquehanna program is flowing and changing, like the river and its tributaries.  To begin understanding this scenic river, we have released a detailed map, created in partnership with National Geographic Maps. The map highlights many of the special places within the river corridor. We encourage the local communities, from the headwaters in Cooperstown, NY to the end of the upper reaches of the West Branch and its connection with the Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, MD to explore this special river, discover its public access points, wonder at its many creatures who call the river home, and engage in the beauty of the unique features that the watershed offers in each season.

360 Degree Virtual Tours

Fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the West Branch and Main Stem of the Susquehanna River. These Google Street View style tours give you a 360 degree view from the perspective of a kayaker on the river.


The state of the Susquehanna River is at a crucial point in its history. Acting now to protect natural landscapes and waterways could have profound benefits down the road on water quality and wildlife abundance. Envision the Susquehanna works to both conserve these lands as well as connect people to the river in their own backyard. Using a variety of “boots on the ground” efforts and hi-tech applications and tools, the Envision program partners conduct precise conservation efforts to achieve the greatest positive impact on the Susquehanna River region. 


In September 2016, the Conservancy, along with our partners began a three-year initiative that will pilot a new approach using precision conservation to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from nonpoint sources to improve water quality and scenic beauty.  Once complete, the project may serve as a national model.

York County Storm Water Consortium BMP Reporting Tool – Dynamically calculate and estimate land treated by and draining into a conservation or restoration BMP.

Chesapeake Conservancy, Susquehanna University and Bloomsburg University provided this technical report in 2019. The report analyzes in-stream monitoring data to study the hypothesis which states, “Landscape variables can be reliably used to effectively predict water quality of adjacent streams.” The study was conducted to verify mapping as a valid way to prioritize parcels–primarily farms–where restoration will lead to more cost effective and efficient water quality improvements in the Susquehanna River Watershed.

Glens Garden Market Contribution Note

In early summer 2017, a 1,200 ft multi-partner stream restoration and expansion of existing riparian buffer and livestock fencing conservation practices was implemented on two property ownerships within a reach of Elk Creek designated as “ impaired water quality” by agricultural source sediment according to US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act guidelines. The stream flows through two separate properties-on the south bank Pointer Haven is an outdoor recreational locale owned by Charles Brown who has taken a proactive approach to natural resource and fish and wildlife conservation. Along the north bank an Amish neighbor’s “working farm” has livestock pastures with water access and concentrated vegetable crop fields heavily mulched with nitrogen-rich manure. In order for the stream restoration to proceed, Mr. Brown secured a “handshake” lease agreement so that government agency funds for construction were channeled through his ownership since the Amish community members will not accept government funds.

The stream reconstruction involved significant earth moving followed by seeding fast growing, but shortlived non-native grasses done as a temporary step to prevent mass bank erosion. No funds were available in the government program budget to establish more effective, dense native riparian shrub vegetation until Chesapeake Conservancy sought and received a private donation from Glen’s Garden Market of Washington DC. In early spring 2018, 2,300 live dormant stakes of native silky willow, silky dogwood, and arrowwood viburnum purchased commercially at Ernst Conservation seeds were planted by volunteers from Susquehanna University, Habitat Forever LLC, and Penns Valley Conservation Association along with staff from Glen’s Garden Market and Chesapeake Conservancy. Rapid growth and survival greater than an estimated 90% after one year has encouraged the Conservancy to launch the Live Stake Cooperative to distribute live stake species numbering over 25,000 to conservation partners.


Nature's Network

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conservation. That’s why the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) brought together partners from 13 states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nongovernmental organizations and universities to create Nature’s Network.

A suite of decision-support tools that complement the work of different agencies, organizations, and individuals conserving lands and waters across the Northeast, Nature’s Network offers something for everyone. Read more.

To learn more about the Envision the Susquehanna program, the river, our precision conservation data and how you can help, please visit envisionthesusquehanna.org.