Harford County, Maryland
Harford County Maryland

Department of Planning and Zoning
220 South Main Street, Bel Air, MD 21014 410.638.3103 or 410.879.2000
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Vision Statement

We envision a healthy, vibrant Deer Creek Watershed by preserving high quality streams and rivers supportive of diverse aquatic life and conserving our treasured natural resources for this and future generations. We celebrate today's rural legacy of farms, forests, historic villages, and scenic parklands.


Promote the recognition of the value of farming, awareness of best management practices, preservation of farmland and financial resources necessary for their implementation.

Manage natural resources on a sustainable basis, including forests, wetlands, stream corridors, sensitive species and wildlife.

Utilize sustainable development and implementation approaches to manage impervious surfaces and protect water quality.

Develop and promote watershed awareness and stewardship.

Network with regional jurisdictions to address common goals of water quality protection and environmental stewardship.

The Deer Creek Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) was initiated by the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning in 2005, through a grant from the State, to develop a watershed plan for the Deer Creek watershed. The goal of the WRAS is to protect water quality, conserve fish and wildlife habitats, and restore those areas found to be impaired. The Deer Creek watershed is a recognized local and State resource worthy of protection. Its many significant attributes resulted in its designation as a State Scenic River in 1973. Numerous sensitive species inhabit this watershed, including the endangered Maryland Darter, the bog turtle, and brook trout. Many of the streams are designated trout waters.

Deer Creek is the largest watershed in Harford County, covering 38 percent of the County’s land area. This rural watershed lies outside of the County “development envelope” and is an important agricultural area of the County. The entire watershed is approximately 109,400 acres, of which 86,000 acres are within Harford County. The remainder of the watershed is in York County, Pennsylvania (16,250 acres) and Baltimore County (7,150 acres). Major land uses are agriculture (54%) and forest (31%), with developed land making up a smaller percentage (15%). Almost 30% of the watershed in Harford County is currently protected as park land or through agricultural preservation easements.

As a part of the study, water quality and natural resource data in the watershed was collected to better understand the existing conditions and stressors that are impacting water quality and habitat. Restoration and protection strategies were developed to protect and maintain the high quality areas, and restore areas that were found to be impaired. Local input and knowledge was a valuable tool in developing these strategies.

Several technical reports were completed by the State as a part of this study that provide the foundation for the development of the WRAS. These include:

-- Characterization of the Watershed - a general overview of the watershed addressing such topics as historic water quality, living resources and habitat, land use, growth projections, protected lands and green infrastructure.

--Synoptic Survey - a snapshot overview of the basic water chemistry of the streams in the watershed (104 sites sampled in April 2005) including nitrate/nitrite, orthophosphate, temperature, dissolved oxygen, ph, and conductivity.

--Stream Corridor Assessment - 75 miles of streams were walked in the watershed; potential environmental problems such as erosion sites, inadequate stream buffers, fish barriers, pipe outfalls, channel alterations and trash dumping areas were identified and mapped.

--Maryland Biological Stream Survey - aquatic life in the subwatersheds of Deer Creek was sampled to identify and prioritize areas most critical to maintain aquatic biodiversity through either restoration or preservation activities.

These technical reports are available at http://dnr.maryland.gov/watersheds/surf/proj/wras.html.

A Deer Creek Stakeholder Committee was formed early in the process to assist the County in formulating the plan. Members on the Committee included interests from the agricultural, governmental, environmental, educational, and business communities. The Committee, along with public input, guided the development of action strategies in the plan.

KCI Technologies, Inc. was hired to assist the County in assimilating all data gathered and developing priorities for restoration and protection strategies in the watershed.

The Final WRAS was completed in July 2007, implementation has begun and periodic updates will be posted on this webpage.

For More Information: deercreekwras@harfordcountymd.gov

Deer Creek WRAS:
Additional Links
Links to External Website Aquatic Conservation Targets   PDF Document
Harford County Water Resources  
Links to External Website MD WaterShed Restoration  
Implementation Update  
Associated Documents:
Deer Creek Watershed Map
Deer Creek WRAS
Deer Creek WRAS Brochure
Deer Creek WRAS Protected Land
Stout Bottle Branch Cabbage Run Subwatershed Action Plan

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