Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape
AboutThe Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape is situated along the Chesapeake Bay, an area that has long been known as an American Treasure due to its economic productivity and ecological vitality. The sentinel landscape is anchored by Naval Air Station Patuxent River, one of the Navy’s premier aircraft testing locations. The Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape also encompasses the Nanticoke River, a historically significant waterway that extends over 65 miles and supports numerous threatened and endangered species. Since its designation, the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape partners have pursued projects that collectively preserve natural resources, protect agricultural land, and strengthen military readiness.
Interactive Landscape Map
Total Funding by Partner
Total Acres Protected and Enrolled
Protecting Critical Military Airspace
The U.S. Navy conducts over 150,000 annual critical testing and research flights within its 1.5 million-acre special use airspace in and around the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape. While residential and commercial development on land located underneath protected airspace is incompatible with Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River’s mission, natural and working lands are excellent neighbors for the installation. Since 2015, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Delaware’s Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation have protected 5,336 acres of working lands within the landscape’s footprint, including 1,592 acres that partners recognized as having a high development potential. These projects directly support national defense by promoting land use that is compatible with NAS Patuxent River’s mission.
Preserving the Ecological Importance of the Nanticoke River
Through an extended series of public-private partnerships, the U.S. Navy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture, St. Mary’s County, and several private organizations have preserved 7,356 acres of land within the Nanticoke River Conservation Corridor, including 1,710 acres of imperiled species habitat and 293 acres of grassland habitat. By protecting large swaths of land with prime agricultural soil and forest cover, these partnerships have enhanced an ecosystem that supports over 120 rare, threatened, and endangered species and improved the region’s water quality. Furthermore, projects within the Nanticoke River Conservation Corridor have strengthened military readiness by reducing noise and safety concerns for the Navy’s premier Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation facility.
Expanding the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
The Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape supports a portion of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, a 28,000-acre unit of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which constitutes the nation’s largest estuary. Building on the success of the Nanticoke River Conservation Corridor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated with the Chesapeake Conservancy and the Land and Water Conservation Fund to permanently protect 155 acres as part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The protected land will deter development within critical wetlands and improve the pristine character of the Nanticoke River watershed.
+- Federal Partners
- Naval Air Station Patuxent
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
- U.S. Department of Defense, Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI)
- U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Chesapeake Bay Field Office
- U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS)
+- Private Partners
- Chesapeake Conservancy
- Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
- Lower Shore Land Trust
- Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy
- Northern Neck Land Conservancy
- Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust
- Southern Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Board, Inc.
- Sussex County Land Trust
- The Conservation Fund, Maryland and Delaware
- The Nature Conservancy, Maryland
- Trust for Public Land
- Virginia Outdoor Foundation
In The News
Partnership Conserves Farmland in Nanticoke Rural Legacy Area
A mix of private and public funding sources came together within the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape to conserve 233 acres of forest, farm, and wetland. The protection of this property yields multiple benefits to the region preserving the rural character of this agricultural community while simultaneously helping to secure the mission of the Atlantic Test Range.Read More
Partnership Conserves Wildlife Habitat for Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
In late 2018 a diverse group of conservation partners came together to protect 155 acres of forest, farm and wetland that add to the conservation footprint of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and build on the impressive network of protected lands in the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape.Read More
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Celebrates Completion of New Boating Facilities at Phillips Landing
On May 17, 2019 conservation partners including Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, elected officials, non-profit organizations, law enforcement, and private citizens came together to celebrate the official ribbon cutting for the Phillips Landing Boat Launch and Woodland Wharf located near Lauryl, Delaware. The event marked the opening of these facilities that create and improve public access points to the ecologically significant Nanticoke River while simultaneously helping to secure the mission of the Atlantic Test Range by securing open space in the Sentinel Landscape.Read More
2019 Sentinel Landscapes Accomplishments Report
Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape Fact Sheet
Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape Brochure
October 19-20, 2019
53rd Annual U.S. Oyster Festival
At St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown, Maryland. Oysters are a culinary tradition of the Chesapeake Bay and their recovery from near extirpation is one of the great success stories of conservation within the landscape and watershed. Celebrate the cultural heritage of watermen in the region with the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Champion Contest and the National Oyster Cook-Off.
October 22, 2019
Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape Partnership Meeting
Location TBD but will include field trip/site visit to one of the completed acquisition projects in the area. We are targeting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge for this meeting but need to confirm date and facilities.
November 7-10, 2019
A non-profit festival held annually to celebrate the rich cultural history of the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore that features wildlife art, waterfowl hunting, and conservation.
“U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office is advancing our regional priorities through the well-coordinated efforts of the Middle Chesapeake Sentinel Landscape. The synergy of partners within the landscape have facilitated an advanced pace of land protection within our priority geography of the Nanticoke Unit of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex.”