Protecting high quality ecological areas often is less expensive and more effective than attempting to repair or recreate damaged areas. Protection of land cover is critical for making improvements in water quality, and the survival of important species will depend on our ability to preserve critical and connected habitats along estuarine, riverine, and upland systems. Essential to our ability to protect resources will be encouraging density in urban areas, protecting rural working lands and forests, and avoiding sprawl. It is important to look at remaining habitat at a larger scale, determining what areas are the most ecologically intact and/or provide the greatest level of ecosystem services. These areas should then become our highest priorities for protection. An array of tools such as purchasing property and conservation easements, incentive programs, and regulations are already available. What is needed is a strategy to match these actions with the areas that are the most important and most vulnerable.