Looking down on a still brown river as it curves through a thick forest. A mountain ridgeline stretches across the horizon.
Western Maryland Forests Central Appalachian forests are the water tower for the mid-Atlantic, filtering the headwaters of rivers and streams that provide drinking water to Washington, DC. © Kent Mason

Stories in Maryland/DC

OktoberForest in Maryland DC

Celebrating the connections between clean water, great beer and the forests that make it all possible.

This article was updated on October 5, 2020.

If you like beer, you should love forests.

Beer has four main ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast. While water may seem like beer’s simplest ingredient, there's a lot involved in getting that clean water to our taps.

A thin green X creates four quandrants filled from top with a red heart, green tree, green water droplet, and a tall glass.
Love Beer? Love Forests! Celebrate OktoberForest. © The Nature Conservancy

Clean, plentiful water depends on healthy surrounding natural areas, like forests. Forty percent of the world’s usable water is stored and filtered through forests. From the tree canopy all the way down to root systems, every part of a forest plays a critical role in cleaning and protecting our water supply. 

The Central Appalachians are the water tower for the mid-Atlantic. More than 6 million people in the D.C. metro area get their drinking water from the Potomac River, which flows from the cool mountain streams that form and converge in the forested mountains to the west.

It’s not an obvious connection: beer and forests. But, we hope the next time you enjoy a pint, you give a nod to the trees.

HEALTHY FORESTS = CLEAN WATER = GREAT BEER Beer and forests may seem like an odd connection, but forests provide 40% of the world's usable water, beer's main ingredient.
A small section of Sideling Hill Creek is visible as it curves through a thick forest. The leaves are in late fall color.
Western Maryland Forests Aerial view of Sideling Hill Creek Preserve. © Kent Mason

Healthy Forests

The health and connectivity of our Central Appalachian forests benefits both people and nature. Forest resiliency provides nature the opportunity to adapt and thrive in the face of climate change.

Across the country, and right here at home, our forests are under pressure and under threat. The Maryland/DC chapter is working to protect forests by:

  • Using science to better understand forest health and the impacts of climate change.
  • Actively working in western Maryland’s Central Appalachians forests to keep them connected, healthy, and resilient.
  • Helping private landowners find information, financial resources or expert advice that best meet their current needs to improve forest health and wildlife habitat on their land.  
  • Collaborating with state and federal partners to ensure we’re using best management practices on our preserves.
  • Returning fire to the landscape through controlled burns. The benefits that fire can bring to a landscape are remarkably varied. Many species of plants and trees have evolved to be fire-adapted, and may not grow or disperse their seeds until after a forest has burned.  
  • Treating trees against harmful pests. In 2017 we collaborated with Maryland DNR to proactively treat small clusters of ash trees along the Nanticoke River with an intravenious injection of pesticide to prevent infestation by the emerald ash borer.

Help Us Plant a Billion Trees


Our Plant a Billion Trees campaign is a forest restoration effort with the goal of planting one billion trees across the planet. One billion is a big number, but we know we can do it with your help. Your support will put trees in the ground, creating healthy forests and fresh water.