Harford County’s Chesapeake Bay Critical Area (CBCA) Management Program is a local program required by state law which regulates construction and other land use activities on lands near tidal waters. The program is managed by Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning, and is overseen by the State Critical Area Commission.
The CBCA regulations were designed to protect and conserve wildlife habitat and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, while permitting controlled development. These regulations direct development away from sensitive habitats, require a buffer between new development and tidal waters, and require the use of stormwater management to treat rainfall and clean up streams and rivers, and ultimately the bay. The CBCA Program works on the principal that man's activity on land has impacts on our natural areas and that we need to take steps to minimize the results of our actions. By doing so, the health of our bay will improve and may remain productive for future generations.
The CBCA begins with the tidal waters and tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay and associated tributaries. From these tidal areas, the Critical Area includes all areas 1,000 feet landward of these waters and wetlands. The CBCA may also include specific parks, floodplains, and wetland areas beyond the 1,000 feet from tidal waters and wetlands. Most of the shoreline areas of the Susquehanna River, the Bay, Swan Creek, Bush River and Gunpowder River are regulated by the Critical Area Program.