ANNAPOLIS (AP) More than 625 miles of forest buffers were planted in the Chesapeake Bay watershed this year, the most since Bay-area governments committed themselves in 1996 to planting trees along 2,010 miles of streams and rivers by 2010.
The three states and the District have already reached 85 percent of that goal, and the partners in the Chesapeake Bay Program will consider increasing the goal when they update their preservation plans in 2003, Chris Conner, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Bay program office, said yesterday.
“It is really good to see that Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia have really stepped up their efforts,” Mr. Conner said.
“If we continue at this pace, we are going to reach the goal in 2003,” he said. “It looks like we’ll end up increasing the mileage by a great deal in 2003.”
Mr. Conner said forest buffers along streams and rivers “act as natural filters that reduce the amount of nutrients ending up in local waterways and eventually the Bay.”
Trees also help fish survive in small streams by keeping water cooler in the summer, he said.
Maryland’s goal was to plant 600 miles of forest buffers, and the state will reach that goal by next spring, Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced in July. He has already doubled Maryland’s goal to 1,200 miles by 2010.
Virginia has planted 312 miles of its 610-mile goal and Pennsylvania 400 miles of its goal of 600 acres. The federal government and the District have restored eight miles.
Michael Morrill, Mr. Glendening’s communications director, conceded the program got off to a slow start.
“Last year, the governor made a commitment to double the acreage and put the proper resources and people into place to do that,” Mr. Morrill said.
“We are seeing great cooperation from homeowners, land owners and farmers around the Bay who have come to realize the long-term value of this in protecting their own property and the environment as well.”
Pennsylvania planted trees along 266 miles of streams and rivers this year, Maryland planted 255 miles and Virginia 102.5 miles.