Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Feds boost Bay funding

Funding for key Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts was increased in the federal budget passed last month, Maryland reports in an article by Timothy B Wheeler for the Bay Journal.

Great blue heron on the Chesapeake Bay (iStockPhoto)

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which guides the overall restoration work throughout the six-state watershed, will get $85 million, the most it’s ever received and a 16% increase over what the program received annually from Congress for the last five years.

It’s also almost $78 million more than the Trump White House had requested for this year, a decrease that would have cut nearly 90 percent out of the Bay Program budget.

“We fought hard for this investment, and I’m pleased that this effort succeeded, despite the Administration’s continued attempts to slash this funding,” the Journal quoted Sen Chris Van Hollen of Maryland as saying. The increase was good news for environmentalists.

Kristin Reilly, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, which represents more than 240 groups in the Chesapeake watershed, called the increased Bay Program funding “a great victory for clean water”: “As the 2025 deadline approaches to have all programs and practices in place to restore water quality,” she said, “continued investment by the federal government in the Bay Program will pay huge dividends not only for the environmental benefits, but also to communities and local economies throughout the watershed.”

In addition, the National Park Service got a 50 percent increase for its Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network, a collection of more than 170 sites in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia, and Washington where the public can connect with the natural and cultural heritage of the Bay. Joel Dunn, president and CEO of the nonprofit Chesapeake Conservancy, said the $3 million appropriation marks the first time the program has received the full amount authorized by Congress.

“Chesapeake Bay Gateways are the places to experience, first-hand, Chesapeake life and culture. Gateways are the Bay’s hidden treasures — each communicating a unique relationship and story of the Chesapeake. Gateways are parks, wildlife refuges, maritime museums, historic sites, and water trails. They are places you can go to volunteer, explore, enjoy, relax, learn, or simply renew your spirit.”

The Gateway sites also promote volunteer efforts in restoring the Bay, a strong part of environmental science education. But the sites don’t do that with textbooks; instead they provide “stunning waterfowl migrations, the quiet beauty of pristine landscapes, and an abundant wildlife population … as you explore and play in the Chesapeake region.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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