About Chesapeake Watershed CESU

About Chesapeake Watershed CESU

Established in August 2001, the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CW CESU) is a partnership of over 70 research institutions and 12 federal agencies whose members strive to understand and protect the natural, cultural, and social resources of the region. With the Appalachian Laboratory as its lead administrative agency, the CW CESU is one of a national network of 17 such cooperative research units.

Meet the CW CESU Team

Simplifying the Process

What is a CESU? Nationally, Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Units (CESUs) provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management, environment, and research agencies and their partners. By streamlining the funding process, CESUs efficiently facilitate collaboration between partner research institutions and federal agencies on research that informs the agencies’ environmental and cultural management decisions. Research institution partners within the CW CESU provide leadership in watershed science and stewardship with special emphasis on the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay. To learn more about CESUs, visit our CESU National Network page.

CESU Project Steps

To Protect What Matters

The Chesapeake Watershed is home to more than 3,600 species and over 15 million people all competing for resources and space within this 64,000 square mile region. The CW CESU promotes stewardship and integrated ecosystem management of natural and cultural resources within the Chesapeake Watershed through collaborative research, technical assistance, and education.

Our Mission

The CW CESU fosters stewardship of the watershed through collaborative research, technical assistance, and education that support integrated ecosystem management. Emphasizing interdisciplinary and multi-scale approaches, the CW CESU addresses the complex and interrelated biological, physical, cultural, and social resources and issues within this urbanizing landscape. The CW CESU provides national and international leadership in watershed science and stewardship.  Our Strategic Planning page provides further information about our current goals and objectives.

Visit our Opportunities page to discover current opportunities or our News page to learn about recent activities associated with the CW CESU.

Our partners are located throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond.  Use our interactive map below to learn more about our Non-Federal Partners or click in the upper right corner to view the map in a new browser window:



CW CESU Cooperative Agreement

Download CW CESU Agreement for 2021-2026

The 2021-2026 agreement is now fully executed for all signed partners. Any partner who has not yet signed, will remain “inactive” until their signature page has been received (per Article III. A.).

Please contact Dan Filer, danny_filer@nps.gov, or Rhonda Schwinabart, rschwinabart@umces.edu, with any questions regarding your institution’s status.

Amendment 1– adding Austin Peay State University, Chesapeake Conservancy, Georgetown University, Immaculata University, Marymount University, the US Naval Academy, and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Amendment 2– replacing Lock Haven University and Mansfield University with Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania

Amendment 3– adding Monument Lab and Preservation Maryland

Amendment 4– adding Biodiversity Research Institute, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Leave No Trace, National Council on Public History,  and the Native Plant Trust.


Past Agreements


Amendment 1 adding Shepherd University

Amendment 2 adding Virginia Tech

Amendment 3 adding Binghamton University, Bowie State University, Ecological Society of America, Longwood University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Morgan State University, Ohio University, Park Rx America, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Stroud Water Research Center, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and University of Pennsylvania

Amendment 4 adding Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Amendment 5 adding Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Bryn Mawr College, DC Department of Energy and Environment, Hood College, Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Old Dominion University, Smithsonian Institution, Towson University, and West Virginia University

Amendment 6 adding National Aeronautics and Space Administration; American Indian Higher Education Consortium; Association of African American Museums; Gallaudet University; Indiana University; Johns Hopkins University; Live It, Learn It; Monmouth University; NatureServe; and Temple University

Amendment 7 adding Conservation Science Global


Anne Arundel Community College was added as a partner during the 2011 renewal (documentation link)

Amendment 1 adding George Washington University and Shippensburg University

Amendment 2 adding University of Richmond and Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Amendment 3 adding Garrett College and Virginia Commonwealth University

Amendment 4 adding Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Natural Heritage


Amendment 1  adding Delaware State University

Amendment 2  adding US Army Corps of Engineers-Civil Works, the University of Delaware, and the Academy of Natural Sciences

Amendment 3 adding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Amendment 4 adding the US Fish and Wildlife Service, American University, Christopher Newport University, Howard University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the University of Mary Washington, and the University of Virginia


Amendment 1 adding the US Forest Service

Amendment 2 adding the College of William and Mary and the National Aquarium in Baltimore

Amendment 3 adding the Natural Resource Conservation Service

Amendment 4 adding the American Bird Conservancy and James Madison University