Chesapeake Conservancy Applauds Conservation Outcomes in FY21 Federal Appropriations

Annapolis, MD – On Monday, December 21, 2020, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The annual federal spending package supports several programs important to conservation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Notably, the bill increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program by $2.5 million. The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership of federal agencies, states, local governments, universities, and non-governmental organizations that work together to restore and to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

The bill also fully funds the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network program at $3 million. The Gateways Program provides financial and technical support to communities and organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed for public access, educational programming, and interpretation of the Bay’s natural, cultural, and historical resources.

This year’s federal appropriations bill also marks an important change in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is now considered a mandatory appropriation and is fully funded each year at $900 million after the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act into law this past August. The FY21 funding bill reflects this change and will result in an 81% increase for LWCF over FY20, which will support increased land protection for national parks, national forests, and other public lands, as well as state and local parks.

Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn applauded the FY21 omnibus spending bill’s outcomes for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“I applaud Congress’s strong support for the Chesapeake Bay in the FY21 federal appropriations. The health of the Chesapeake Bay directly impacts the health of the Bay’s local economies and is a big part of our region’s economic resilience. The increase in funding for the most important partnership driving the restoration of the Bay – the Chesapeake Bay Program – is absolutely critical for the future of the Bay, its people, and its wildlife.

“The Chesapeake Bay region has seen an enormous increase in park visitation and outdoor recreation in the past year. This is great news for conservation: it means that we must provide more space for outdoor recreation and also for nature. Full funding for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways program enables the National Park Service to support public access and connect people with our region’s greatest asset and a national treasure, the Chesapeake Bay.

“Full and permanent funding of LWCF, secured through this year’s historic victory of the Great American Outdoors Act, will help to ensure that we can provide more places for people to recreate in and enjoy, protect more habitat for wildlife and nature to thrive in, and help us to conserve 30% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2030.”

“Thank you to our Chesapeake Bay watershed congressional delegation for their bipartisan and strong support for conservation and for the Chesapeake Bay.”