Chesapeake Conservancy Applauds Congress and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Congressional Delegations on Major Victories in Federal FY 2020 Appropriations

Annapolis, MD – On Monday evening, Congress released its Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations bills which represent nearly $1.4 billion in discretionary defense and non-defense funding. The legislation includes significant increases for programs that support Chesapeake Bay restoration and outdoor recreation.

The FY 2020 spending deal provides a significant boost in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program and funds the program at $85 million. This represents a 16% increase over the previous year’s funding and the first increase since 2015. Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn issued the following statement.

“Our community’s effort to protect and restore the Chesapeake is one of the largest, most challenging, most enduring, and most successful ecosystem restoration movements in the world. We have been making tremendous progress, but still have a long way to go.  The increase in funding for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program is a major victory that cannot be overstated.

“We are very fortunate to have such strong, bipartisan leaders representing the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Congress, and their support for the Chesapeake Bay Program comes at a critical time for the community’s exhaustive efforts to meet the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement goals. Thank you to all of our congressional members who continue to fight for this essential program and partner.”

The Appropriations package also includes a significant increase for public access to outdoor recreation opportunities in the Chesapeake Bay, funding the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network at its fully authorized amount of $3 million. This marks the first time in its history that the program has been fully funded. The bill also extends the program’s authorization by one year, which expired in September. Dunn continued:

“By supporting outdoor recreation in the Chesapeake Bay and its great rivers and streams, and educational programming and interpretation, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways program is expanding access to the Chesapeake for all residents and visitors to explore and enjoy. Fully funding this program will allow the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office to bring this program toward its full potential and help even more communities, and connect even more people, to the many natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Chesapeake Bay. It also supports the booming, multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports federal conservation projects like National Parks and National Forests as well as state and local conservation projects, is also funded at the highest level since 2003 at $495.1 million. The bill includes nearly $1 million to support forest conservation in Virginia’s George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, and $2.4 million for Petersburg National Battlefield. The following is attributable to Dunn:

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the most important federal source of conservation funding, and the increase reflects the fact that conservation is a strongly bipartisan issue. We believe this is a positive signal that Congress is ready to go even further to support full and permanent funding for the nation’s most important conservation funding program.”

Congress plans to pass its appropriations package bills this week before the funding deadline expires on Friday at midnight.