Chesapeake Conservancy Applauds Senate Votes

Annapolis, MD – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would authorize a new, $15 million dollar U.S. Fish and Wildlife grant program to support habitat and wildlife conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act was introduced by Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and received strong bipartisan support in the Senate.

The legislation also includes provisions that would extend authorizations for two of the Chesapeake Bay’s most important federal programs supporting science, restoration, and public access in the Chesapeake. The provisions would extend the authorizations for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program as well as the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network through Fiscal Year 2025.

The Chesapeake Bay Program serves as the primary coordinating partner for the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort and leads scientific and monitoring efforts for water quality, wildlife, and conservation across the Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails, a program of the National Park Service, assists local communities throughout the watershed by supporting outdoor recreation opportunities on the Chesapeake Bay and its waterways, educational programming, and interpretation.

Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn applauded the legislation.

“The Senate’s passage of the Chesapeake WILD Act demonstrates bipartisan support for the Chesapeake Bay community’s conservation and restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. In the Chesapeake Bay, our biggest successes can be attributed to partnerships and collaboration. This program will allow an important federal partner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to better coordinate conservation activities among all the federal, regional, state, local, and nonprofit organizations and to boost resources in order to protect the Chesapeake’s treasured fish and wildlife species.”

“Extending authorizations for the Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways program provides necessary assurance and commitment from Congress that these programs can continue to pursue their important missions for the Chesapeake Bay. The EPA Bay Program is the backstop and the primary partner overseeing the collective efforts to restore and protect our region’s greatest natural asset. In addition, the Gateways program supports our booming, multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy and it helps to give residents and visitors a chance to actually get out on the water and explore the many natural, historic, and cultural treasures of the Chesapeake Bay.”

The legislation will now move to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.