Preserving Local Character and Landscapes: A Local Government Guide to the Chesapeake Bay

[Opening shot of a waterfront town, with sailboats tied to mooring balls in the foreground.]

You make decisions about land use that impact the character of your community, quality of life, and the future of your home.

[Shot of a clear stream.]

Conserving farmland is an important local, state, and federal priority.

[Shot of a tractor spraying pesticides onto a farm field.]

Farmlands provide economic and cultural value.

[Shot of grain being released from a silo.]

Trees and forests also have broad benefits for the region.

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Forests improve community health, decrease the risk of damaging floods, can increase home value, and have been linked to higher school performance and wellness in students.

[Shot of water flowing in a river; shot of a person studying while sitting beneath a tree.]

Public access to natural open space and waterways can also improve public health and quality of life.

[Shot of a father carrying his young daughter on his shoulders and a fly fishing pole in his hand as he wades through a stream.]

Wetlands, forests, and other natural landscapes provide cost-effective flood protection for your community.

[Aerial shot of fall foliage in a rural area, bisected by a two-lane road and a calm stream; shot of sunlight shining through the bright green leaves of a tree branch.]

Local governments have access to planning tools to preserve your community’s character and natural landscapes including:

[Aerial shot of agricultural lands on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.]

comprehensive planning

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zoning ordinances

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subdivision ordinances

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impact fees and taxes

[Aerial shot of a waterfront development, with an American flag waving in the foreground.]

urban service boundaries

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conservation easements

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transfer of development rights

[Shot of a farmer driving a combine tractor through a field.]

Preserving the landscape helps the environment and improves quality of life for your community.

[Shot of trees and shrubs overlooking a river.]

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As a local leader, you can make decisions that preserve the local character and landscape of your community. Visit to learn more.