Renewing Our Commitment to the Chesapeake Bay on Earth Day
On Earth Day, we come together to celebrate our environment and take stock of the incredible natural resources and outdoor spaces that we’ve inherited from previous generations. We also renew our commitment to conservation, hone our collective energy to address climate change and join forces to protect the health and vitality of our national environmental treasures – like the Chesapeake Bay – so that our children and grandchildren can share in the joy and beauty of the great outdoors.
To that end, I took part in several activities on Earth Day to help revitalize Maryland’s ecosystems and to announce plans to strengthen federal investment in the Bay Watershed.
On Monday morning, I took a trip out to Poplar Island to help install a new pollinator garden with staff from the Maryland Port Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Environmental Services, Living Classrooms and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, as well as volunteers from the Talbot County Master Gardeners. The garden will attract pollinating insects that can increase the quality of meadows, marshes and wetlands on the island, and in turn, help conserve a vital part of the Bay Watershed.
Congressman Sarbanes breaks ground on the Poplar Island Butterfly Garden, a project to help rejuvenate natural habitats on the federally supported island.
Later that day, I joined Senator Ben Cardin, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, federal and state agency officials, leaders of regional conservation organizations and a diverse array of environmental advocates for a press conference at the Annapolis City Dock. We announced forthcoming legislation to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and River Trails Network and we highlighted efforts to strengthen the Chesapeake Bay Program and promote clean water, healthy wildlife and enhanced recreational access across the Watershed.
Congressman Sarbanes joins local officials, federal leaders and Maryland nonprofits to highlight several initiatives to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
In Congress, I’m also proud to lead several bipartisan efforts that will help boost Bay health and keep it healthy.
- Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Reauthorization Act: Next week, I will join Senator Cardin in introducing a bipartisan and bicameral bill to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways program for six years. The Gateways program provides financial and technical assistance to increase interpretation, recreation, education and public access to the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers and the trailheads for the Captain John Smith and Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trails. The program is administered by the National Park Service, which provides matching grants for projects that enhance public education of and access to the Chesapeake Bay. There are over 170 designated sites across the Bay Watershed that draw over 10 million people every year.
- Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act: In March, I led a bipartisan group of House Members in introducing a bill to increase federal investment in the highly successfully and critically important Chesapeake Bay Program. The bill would provide $455 million over the next five years for Bay restoration efforts – including reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution across the Bay Watershed – in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
- Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force: I co-chair the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force, which works to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay to ensure that it remains a vibrant economic driver and national treasure for future generations. To achieve this important goal, the Task Force supports policies and programs that improve the health and vitality of the Bay. This includes focusing on issues related to water quality, conservation and resource management. The Bay restoration effort has succeeded, in large part, because of the ongoing partnership that now exists between federal, state and local stakeholders. The Task Force will work to uphold the federal government’s commitment to the Bay and help secure and expand critical funding for conservation and restoration.
With these efforts, I’m hopeful that we can continue making meaningful progress to protect the Chesapeake Bay for future generations.
Congressman John Sarbanes
Maryland’s Third Congressional District