Breton Bay
Watershed Restoration Action Strategy

The Breton Bay watershed encompasses over 55 square miles of land lying on Marylandís Coastal Plain between the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers (Figure 1). The watershed includes some of the most ecologically diverse and sensitive biological communities in the Chesapeake Bay region. McIntosh Run, the largest tributary to Breton Bay, has not only been designated a Natural Heritage Area by the State of Maryland, but has been identified as a significant forest block by the Nature Conservancy in the Chesapeake Bay Lowlands Ecoregional Plan (Figure 2) (TNC, 2002). The Nature Conservancy found that this 10,480 acre forest block had the lowest road density of any forest block in the State of Maryland and that it was one of only three that exceeded 80% overall forest cover. McIntosh Run also supports a significant population of dwarf wedge mussels, a federally endangered, globally rare species. In addition to the dwarf wedge mussels, the Breton Bay watershed also supports seven plant species classified by the State of Maryland as rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) (Figure 3) (Shanks, 2002)

Despite possessing these attributes, Breton Bay exhibits some of the same impairments that affect more urbanized watersheds in the State, namely non-point source (NPS) pollution. Non-point source pollution encompasses a wide array of pollutants and pollutant sources, ranging from nutrient and pesticide runoff from agricultural fields, pastures and lawns to heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and sediments running off roads, parking lots and driveways.

The purpose of this document is to present a strategy to reduce NPS pollution and related impairments in the watershed, while at the same time conserving the unique, high quality natural resources. This strategy was developed through the combined efforts of the general public, watershed stakeholders, local and county governments, non-profit organizations and State and Federal agencies. This document outlines the conditions in the watershed, the potential sources of pollution and impairments, and actions that can be taken to address these issues through the Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) Program.

Note: (Documents are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded free from