The 2018 Chesapeake Watershed Forum is held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., on Nov. 2, 2018. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Chesapeake Watershed Forum

Empowering Local Action

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum is a watershed-wide event reaching over 400 restoration and protection practitioners to inspire and empower local action towards clean water.

We share successful tools and techniques, offer lessons and learnings from on-the-ground work, build capacities of local organizations, foster partnerships, educate on new initiatives and emerging practices, network among each other, and celebrate our successes.

Learn More About This Year’s Forum

Each year, the Chesapeake Watershed Forum adopts a new theme relevant to issues facing communities across the Bay watershed. The theme sets the tone for the event and is at the core of all sessions, field trips, activities, and more.

Below is a list of Chesapeake Watershed Forum themes from past years:


Our 2023 theme, “Private Investment In Sustainable Partnerships To Achieve Clean Water Goals”, highlighted examples of successful, sustainable, and equitable partnerships between the private and the non-profit, governmental, academic, and other sectors that have formed to respond to consumer demands around sustainability, conservation, and local community investment. We showcased pathways for accessing new or existing partnerships of different sizes and scales, from landscape-scale restoration efforts with international corporations to local, community-based systems and endeavors. Additionally, we featured innovative solutions and new scientific approaches that drive these partnership efforts toward achieving ambitious sustainability goals.

Click for the recorded 2023 sessions.

Click to view the 2023 Complete Collection of Slide Decks.

Our 2022 theme, “Nature in Your Neighborhood:  Connecting Communities to the Outdoors,” showcased the local benefits of the broader Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration movement. We will elevate tools, examples, and ideas to bridge the gap between local communities and their watersheds. In particular, we will highlight connections made to nature and the outdoors through recreation, public access, public health, stewardship, environmental education, advocacy, and policy. We also considered how historical inequities and biases prohibit certain populations, notably low income, and communities of color, from accessing and connecting with their local waterways. We look to elevate these issues and demonstrate how to address them in a meaningful and lasting way.


Click for the recorded 2022 sessions

Click to view the 2022 Complete Collection of Session Slide Decks

Through our theme, “The Future is Now: Getting to (and Moving Beyond) 2025,” we consider the dualistic priorities of our time. Many of the best practices and approaches in agriculture, stormwater, and forestry that will get us to our 2025 goals are already out there. The challenge is how we disseminate and implement these practices and approaches efficiently, rapidly, and at scale by 2025 and how we sustain the effectiveness of those efforts beyond 2025. Click here for access to the 2021 recordings or here for access to the 45 minute slide decks or the 75 minutes slides.

Our 2020 theme of “Climate Resiliency in a Changing Chesapeake Watershed” provided a platform for attendees to share our responses to the changing climatic and sea level conditions that alter the natural and human systems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, highlighted restoration approaches to enhance resiliency, and expanded our understanding of the human effects of climate change.

Elizabeth Rush, author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, provided thoughtful insight to this theme as the 2020 keynote speaker. Click here for access to the 2020 Forum Session and Plenary Recordings.

The 2019 Forum theme, “Better Together: Diverse and Innovative Collaborations for the Chesapeake Watershed,” intended to highlight collaborative models from the Chesapeake Bay watershed that accelerate the protection and restoration of its lands and waters.

We sought to understand what gives these collaborations staying power, to explore new roles for the veterans of the Chesapeake Bay restoration movement, to identify opportunities to engage non-traditional stakeholders, and learn how to strengthen partnerships by following the principles of equity in order to create a diverse and inclusive movement.

The 2018 forum theme was, “Connecting Our Communities: Celebrating Diverse and Innovative Partnerships.” This theme was chosen so that we could celebrate the many diverse partnerships that have proven successful in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

The 2017 forum theme “Healthy Lands, Healthy Waters, Healthy People was chosen so that we could explore the connection between the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and its effect on the communities that live within the watershed.

Chesapeake Collective

The Chesapeake Collective is an intentional effort to create a space for a range of diverse voices and narratives to be expressed, shared, and incorporated into the broader conversation about our common vision for a healthy, flourishing, and resilient watershed.

While it certainly does not include all of the multiple voices and stories that make our watershed whole, it does provide a platform and an open invitation to those voices and stories that are often overpowered by the dominant narrative or left out of the conversation around holistic, interdependent watersheds and communities.

Chesapeake Collective recognizes and celebrates our watershed-wide diversity as a source of strength and the foundation for the type of social movement it will take to meet our collective restoration goals.

Thank you to our 2023 Sponsors

Want to get involved?

Contact Jenny McGarvey to find out more about the Chesapeake Watershed Forum.

Email Jenny

Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program