It’s a New Year, a time for setting out new goals and resolutions.
At the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, our resolution remains constant: to enhance, protect and restore our shared environment, particularly our treasured Chesapeake Bay.
This commitment to the bay includes achieving the nutrient and sediment goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement by 2025.
Key to achieving our goals and resolution is the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, which provides money to local community projects that mitigate and reduce pollution before it enters our waterways. The “Trust Fund” is one of the most cost-effective and innovative water quality financing programs in the nation. It leverages the power of local partners and incorporates the latest scientific knowledge and techniques, all with a focus on accountability and results.
To date, the fund has directed more than $350 million to over 2,000 projects, removing 27,000 tons of sediment from the bay. It helped restore over 550 acres of wetlands and 222,000 linear feet of stream while also supporting 2,000 jobs.
The fund has the department’s strong support and that of the State House. Governor Larry Hogan has proven his commitment to this environmental program, dedicating $53 million for the Trust Fund in 2016, the first time in state history that revenue dedicated to Chesapeake Bay restoration was not diverted to other state government programs.
That funding helped the department pursue 21 individual projects last year of varying size and scope. For example, $4.95 million was awarded to a Cecil County public-private partnership to restore 8,215 linear feet of stream, establishing 24.8 acres of buffer along Principio Creek. And since 2013, the fund has provided $1.5 million to support the Pocomoke River, which seeks to restore more than 2,850 acres of wetland.
Right now, the department is actively encouraging local governments and nonprofits to apply for this strategic and targeted funding opportunity to help protect the bay. We plan to allocate more than $20 million in 2018.
I look forward to another year of successes, working with all our partners, to achieve our shared resolution to improve our environment and natural resources for this and future generations.
Happy New Year!
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