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Baltimore Pilot Project - Urban Waters Federal Partnership

[photo:] Neighbors using a hose to cool off on a hot summer day.The 375,000-acre Patapsco River Watershed in Baltimore, Md., is one of seven locations selected for help from the nation’s new Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The Watershed spans four counties, flows to the Baltimore City Harbor, and ultimately into Chesapeake Bay.

The Patapsco Watershed is an invaluable resource for recreation and economic development. This project ties together the many uses of the River and seeks to connect citizens to their water source by incorporating on-the-ground projects, promoting education and environmental literacy, and redeveloping abandoned land for public use.

The Urban Water Federal Partnership is:

  • Breaking down federal program silos to promote more efficient and effective use of federal resources through better coordination and targeting of federal investments.
  • Recognizing and building on local efforts and leadership by engaging and serving community partners.
  • Working with local officials and effective community-based organizations to leverage area resources and stimulate local economies to create local jobs.
  • Learning from early and visible victories to fuel long-term action.


The Baltimore Urban Waters Pilot project is developing projects devoted to protecting and restoring urban waters, promoting community revitalization and strengthening the social fabric.  This is occurring through the removal of blight, establishment of open spaces, and creation of economic development to serve as catalyst opportunities for disadvantaged neighborhoods, and capitalize on the social and economic benefits derived from improved urban waters and adjacent lands.


The Forest Service has partnered with many organizations to make this project a success.

Acres of Forest Affected
Patapsco River Watershed

Active FS Research Stations Involved:

Base Annual Budget of the Baltimore Pilot Project
$75,000 for Baltimore Urban
Waters Project Manager (USDA)



Federal partner agencies are working with City, County, and State Agencies and local Non-profit and Community Development groups on a wide range of projects that protect and restore urban waterways while promoting community revitalization and strengthening neighborhoods. Examples include:

  • The Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Baltimore City, and Parks and People partnered to create a summer green jobs program for 30 youth from Civic Justice Corps youth.
  • In 2011, the USDA Forest Service’s Baltimore Field Station and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study partnered with city agencies, area non-profits, and community groups on “Stewardship Mapping & Assessment Project: Caring for the Land, Water, & People of Baltimore,” a research project that aims to identify, survey, and map all of the stewardship activities of groups and organizations in Baltimore City.
  • In 2012, the Forest Service and APA – The Engineered Wood Association created the Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition, a contest based in Baltimore but open to entrants nationwide that challenged residential architects to design an affordable house while considering strategies that reduce fossil fuel use and the structure’s carbon footprint.
  • In 2011, Forest Service scientists gave a presentation to the Chesapeake Bay Network Urban & Community Forestry Team on advances in their development of Urban Tree Canopy Prioritization tools and their application in Baltimore.


From a creative award that produced practical designs for green residential home design to Urban Tree Canopy research and stewardship mapping, the Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership is fostering projects that are making Baltimore greener, urban waters cleaner, and natural resource stewardship more collaborative.

Lessons Learned

The Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership’s greatest accomplishment has been the creation of a framework where conversations are happening that would not otherwise have occurred, resulting in synergies and efficiencies among federal family agencies, state and local government, and non-government organization partners.  

[photo:] Jackie Carrera, Executive Director of the Parks and People Foundation. 

“The Parks & People Foundation’s partnership with the USDA Forest Service has been critical to the success of our innovative and participatory urban ecosystem management approach to implementing the Urban Waters project. Forest Service staff have guided the documentation of model projects to transfer to other urban communities, and helped to define ecological research priorities for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, which is also supported by the USFS Northern Research Station.”
--Jackie Carrera, Executive Director of the Parks and People Foundation

Partner Organizations

Last Modified: July 31, 2019