Chesapeake Conservancy Statement on the Passing of Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, Member of the Board of Directors
The following statement is attributable to Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn on the passing of former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland, a member of Chesapeake Conservancy’s Board of Directors and the recipient of the organization’s 2016 Champions of the Chesapeake Award.
As a member of the Maryland General Assembly he co-authored the public law creating the real estate transfer tax mechanism for financing Maryland’s Program Open Space – one of the most progressive programs to fund state and local parks and land conservation in the country. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970 and to the United States Senate in 1976, where he served five terms and helped enact every major piece of legislation to enhance the nation’s environmental quality — including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and Superfund, to name only a few.
As Chair of the Maryland Congressional Delegation and as the senior member of Congress from the Chesapeake watershed, Sarbanes led Congressional efforts to restore the health of the Chesapeake from 1987 to his retirement in 2007. Among his legislative accomplishments are: EPA’s Chesapeake Restoration Act, the restoration of Poplar Island, NOAA’s Chesapeake statutory authority and Bay Education Program, the federal native oyster restoration program, the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Program, and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, enacted in 2006. He has received numerous awards and recognition from the National and Maryland Leagues of Conservation Voters, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and the University of Maryland’s Truitt Award, Chesapeake Conservancy, among others, for his environmental achievements.
“U.S. Senator Sarbanes has been a champion for the environment, for conservation and for the Chesapeake Bay since he was first elected to public office in 1966. While in the Maryland General Assembly, he coauthored the legislation that enabled Program Open Space, and while in the U.S. Senate he coauthored the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Restoration Act, both of which have been instrumental in helping to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”
“Senator Sarbanes often said, ‘If a state could have a soul, Maryland’s would be the Chesapeake.’ Last night, the Chesapeake lost one of its most dedicated advocates.
“As a member of Chesapeake Conservancy’s Board of Directors, he served as a mentor to our relatively young organization and to me, personally. As a force behind the creation of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, in many ways he was also a force behind the creation of our nonprofit.
“Senator Sarbanes was known as a quiet titan of intellect who worked diligently for Marylanders and for the American people. Our Chesapeake community was extremely fortunate to have the dedicated support of Senator Sarbanes, and his legacy of protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay continues today and will continue long into the future.”