WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny Hoyer announced that the House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report which included federal funds for programs and projects that will benefit Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's Counties. The Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report includes nine of the thirteen appropriations bills for fiscal year 2005. The Senate is expected to pass the Conference Report as well, sending the bill to the President's desk.
Congressman Hoyer is the only member in the House of Representatives from Maryland who serves on the Appropriations Committee.
"This funding brings important services and resources to Southern Maryland; it will help preserve the Chesapeake Bay, and will provide funding to expand alternative tobacco crop options in Southern Maryland to help keep Maryland agriculture viable," Hoyer added. "Funds included in this Conference Report will also upgrade the Suitland Parkway and MD 4, and expand the Southern Maryland Commuter Bus Program assisting in easing the overwhelming traffic congestion in our region."
"Overall, the projects that were funded in this bill will improve our state's infrastructure, provide more and better opportunities throughout our state to conduct important and innovative research, make proactive investments in our environment, and they will bring opportunities to Southern Maryland that will provide job security for Maryland families and stability for our regional economy," Hoyer added.
Congressman Hoyer helped secure funding for the following list of programs that will benefit Southern Maryland.
MD 4 AND SUITLAND PARKWAY INTERCHANGE PROJECT, $3.75 MILLION
These funds will be used for the construction of the MD 4 and Suitland Parkway Interchange and additional and necessary upgrades to Suitland Parkway. The Suitland Parkway Interchange project would expand a major corridor from Calvert County in Southern Maryland to Washington, DC and improve access to the military bases in Southern Maryland. It is a major connector to numerous federal government facilities and military installations and these funds will ensure that transportation to these facilities remains safe and efficient.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY (WMATA), $1.5 MILLION
These funds will be used to purchase 185 clean fleet buses for the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Maryland. WMATA has the unique responsibility of transporting over half of the federal workforce to jobs every day in the Washington, DC area. Metrobus serves over 300 federal offices and employment centers. It will assist the region in complying with federal air quality standards, and it will enable the Washington region to mobilize in the event of an emergency.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND COMMUTER BUS INITIATIVE, $5 MILLION
Congressman Hoyer helped secure this funding for the planning, design, and construction of the Southern Maryland Commuter Bus Initiative. This funding will allow the Southern Maryland region to construct six commuter parking facilities in Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert Counties, acquire over the road coaches, and improve intersections at key locations along the MD 5 corridor. The enhanced transit will enable swifter and more efficient movement of people throughout the greater Metropolitan area. Last year, Congressman Hoyer secured $4.5 million for this initiative.
CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAMS, $32 MILLION
The following programs to benefit the Chesapeake Bay were funded in the conference report, the funding level of each individual program follows the name of the program.
UM CHESAPEAKE BAY AGRO-ECOLOGY RESEARCH INITIATIVE, $317,000
Maryland has emerged as the leader nationally in implementing agricultural nutrient management, soil conservation, tributary teams and other cooperative planning strategies to confront the Pfiesteria problem. Congressman Hoyer has helped lead the response to these invasive and destructive algae, securing more than $10 million to react to the outbreak, contain it and study its effects on humans. He helped secure $286,000 last year for the Agro-Ecology Research Initiative, $320,000 in fiscal year 2003 and $175,000 in fiscal year 2002. This year's funding of $317,000 would continue the progress of this program and would be matched equally by University of Maryland funds.
EPA CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM, $22.8 MILLION
The Chesapeake Bay Program, which is run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will receive $22.8 million for a variety of restoration and water quality issues to restore the Bay to a healthy and self-sustaining ecosystem. Funding for this program is essential to the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement which outlines goals and commitments for the program to achieve over the next ten years.
EPA CHESAPEAKE BAY SMALL WATERSHED GRANTS PROGRAM, $2 MILLION
The Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program provides grants to organizations working on a local level to protect and improve watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay basin, while building citizen-based resource stewardship. The purpose of the grants program is to address the water quality and living resource needs of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. This program has proven to be an overwhelming success not only in promoting local stewardship and empowering local agencies and community groups to identify and solve local problems, but improving the Bay as a whole through the cumulative effects of these seemingly modest local efforts.
NOAA CHESAPEAKE BAY STUDIES, $3.5 MILLION
This funding will support NOAA's multispecies initiative and blue crab research, continuing fish and crab research and monitoring, coastal prediction, living resource response to toxic contamination and ecosystem modeling.
NOAA BAY WATERSHED EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAM, $2.5 MILLION
This funding will be used to improve the understanding of environmental stewardship for students and teachers in the classroom.
NOAA CHESAPEAKE BAY OFFICE OYSTER HABITAT RESTORATION, $500,000
This funding will be used for oyster habitat restoration. The Oyster Habitat Restoration project is part of a multi-agency 10-year investment to restore oyster populations and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The project will receive $50 million in state funding from Maryland and Virginia over the next ten years.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND BLUE CRAB RESEARCH, $500,000
University of Maryland Tobacco Alternative Study, $335,000
For over 350 years tobacco production has been the heart of agriculture in Southern Maryland. But with nearly 80% of Maryland's tobacco farmers now participating in the state's buyout program, these farmers will require new crop options if agriculture is to remain viable in Southern Maryland and other traditional tobacco-growing regions. There is tremendous promise in alternative uses for tobacco. In each of the past two years, the Congress has provided $322,000 for the Alternative Tobacco Program at the University of Maryland. This research is working to develop new non-smoking uses for tobacco, and explores the many valuable uses of the plant. Successful development of this project could help maintain an agricultural base in Southern Maryland, and serve as a model for other tobacco-producing areas.
MARYLAND CENTER FOR AGRO-ECOLOGY, $390,000
The Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology was established, under the leadership of former Maryland Governor Harry Hughes, to convene environmental, business, and elected leaders to develop a consensus on research, education and policy programs in the agricultural and forestry sectors. The Center provides competitive grants and works to educate key officials and the public about the aesthetic, environmental and economic value of our farms, forests and other open spaces and the need to protect and enhance open space-based industries in Maryland. Congressman Hoyer helped secure $357,000 in fiscal year 2004 and $400,000 in fiscal year 2003 for the Center for Agro-Ecology to support vital initiatives that protect Maryland's open space and farm and forest-based enterprises which are significant contributors to Maryland's economy.
LEXINGTON MANOR NORTHERN PARCEL REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT, ST. MARY'S COUNTY, $242,500
This project will eliminate both physical and economic distress in the area immediately bordering the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The County will acquire Lexington Manor, a chronically blighted and largely vacant housing development, and blighted structures on the property will be demolished as part of the effort to protect the AICUZ area from encroachment and help protect the mission of this important military installation.
BAYSIDE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB EXPANSION, NORTH BEACH, MD, $194,000
This project would be used to expand the Bayside Boys and Girls Club in North Beach, Maryland in Calvert County through the construction of a gym and a multipurpose room to serve as a teen center and special programs and activities room.
GIRL SCOUT CAMP CONSTRUCTION, CHARLES AND PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTIES, $194,000
These funds are needed to expand Camp Winona in Hughesville, Charles County and Camp Aquasco in Aquasco, Prince George's County. The funds will be used to build new lodges, create nature study areas, and complete infrastructure requirements to make sure that there is enough room at the camps for all Girl Scouts in Southern Maryland.
MINORITY BUSINESS CENTER, WALDORF, $60,000
The Ministers Alliance of Charles County and Vicinity, a non-profit community services organization, received $269,000 from the State of Maryland to acquire property and establish a Minority Business Center to assist minority and small businesses in establishing, managing and expanding their businesses by using proven methods of counseling, training, technical assistance and research. These funds will be used to complete the renovation of the recently acquired office space. Specifically, to renovate the facility to provide the Minority Business Center with multiple-use offices and spaces and infrastructure equipped to accommodate state-of-the-art IT technology.
THE LINDEN RESTORATION PROJECT, $250,000
The Linden property, the last remaining Urban Farmstead on Maryland's western shore, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Calvert County Historic District. In addition, Linden serves the public as the epicenter for historical research, genealogy, and collections that represent Calvert County's marine and agricultural heritage. This funding will be used to restore the interior of the main house and will complete the restoration project. To date, the Calvert County Historical Society has received approximately $950,000 in contributions for the project, and will continue its efforts to supplement the federal funding provided.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND GROUNDWATER ASSESSMENT, $300,000
As a result of recent droughts and rapid population growth, many jurisdictions within the Potomac basin are struggling to develop comprehensive, long-term water supply strategies. However, none of these efforts will be successful absent a long-term, basin-wide water supply study that considers the potential for developing new sources of water supply on a regional basis. This funding will allow the Potomac River Basin to proceed with initiatives that will allow them to assess current uses and the potential impacts of new groundwater withdrawals, and to ensure adequate supplies.
PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE AT ST. MARY'S COLLEGE, $1 MILLION
This funding would allow St. Mary's College in Historic St. Mary's City to construct a pedestrian bridge across Route 5, which divides the College's campus. Because of the historic setting, the bridge would need to be designed architecturally to be consistent with the historic context of the site. The funds would support design, archaeological mitigation and construction.
ALLIANCE FOR COASTAL TECHNOLOGIES (ACT), $2.5 MILLION
The Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) is a partnership of institutions, including the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Solomons, Maryland, that works with NOAA to develop a program that supports the longstanding objective of having marine observing and forecast systems that benefit environmental managers and all coastal users. This funding will allow ACT to continue its critically important work in coastal resource management, marine research, and coastal equipment evaluation.
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE IT INFRASTRUCTURE, $750,000
This funding will be used to upgrade St. Mary's College's broadband from Internet I to Internet II, and will allow the campus to finish wiring with fiber optic cabling. Congressman Hoyer has successfully secured $250,000 each of the past two years so that St. Mary's College can improve their technology infrastructure. With previous appropriations, the College was able to rewire some of its older residence halls and the library with fiber optic cable and replace the system's hubs with switches. This additional funding will complete the entire project, including rewiring three administrative buildings and the remaining residence halls and physically hooking into Internet II at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons Island, Maryland. These technology upgrades will allow the school to produce graduates who are technically adept to meet the demand for a well-educated technology workforce in Southern Maryland.
ST. JEROME CREEK DREDGING PROJECT, $43,000
St. Jerome's Creek provides the only safe harbor between Point Lookout and the Patuxent River for boats on the Chesapeake Bay seeking shelter from rapidly approaching storms. Many residents of the Creek depend on access to the Chesapeake Bay for income, including watermen and Charter boat operators. At the request of Congressman Hoyer, the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to expedite the St. Jerome Creek project and this funding will allow the Army Corp of Engineers to improve the navigability and safety of St. Jerome Creek in St. Mary's County in order to provide expanded access for watermen, charter boats, and recreational boaters. Congressman Hoyer will continue to work with the Corps to ensure that this project will be completed. This funding was not included in the President's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2005, however, at the request of Congressman Hoyer, funding for this project was included in the bill.
HERRING CREEK AND TALL TIMBERS, $125,000
This funding will help the Army Corps of Engineers address the problem of shoreline erosion induced by the Herring Creek entrance jetties and will be used for the engineering and design of a 350-foot freestanding stone revetment. This revetment is a cost effective alternative to periodic beach nourishment (adding sand to an eroded beach). This funding was not included in the President's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2005, however, at the request of Congressman Hoyer, funding for this project was included in the bill.
OYSTER RESTORATION PROJECT, $3 MILLION
The Oyster Restoration Project is working to create both managed harvest reserves and oyster sanctuaries which will provide in coming years a fresh supply of oysters for the watermen and the entire oyster industry infrastructure: shucking houses, businesses that serve harvesters and processors, and restaurants. The oyster reef structures that will be created thanks to this effort will provide critical habitat and feeding grounds for other essential species, and will also serve as natural filters screening out algae, sediments, and pollutants. Unfortunately, due to disease, pollution, and over fishing, oyster populations are only about two percent of their levels just a century ago.
The Governors of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, and the EPA Administrator have agreed to work together to increase the oyster population in the Bay ten-fold by 2010. The entire cost of the Oyster Recovery Project through 2010 is expected to be $75 million, with $50 million being provided by the federal government and $25 million from the state of Maryland.
ST. MARY'S STABILIZATION PROGRAM, $500,000
The campus of St. Mary's College directly abuts the St. Mary's River. This close proximity to the river and Chesapeake Bay has been an exceptional educational tool; however, this proximity is now becoming a hazard. A survey of photographs suggests the College is losing one foot of river frontage a year, and that rate is increasing. This funding will be used by the Army Corps of Engineers to plan, design, and complete construction to fix this problem.
CHESAPEAKE BAY GATEWAYS NETWORK, $2.5 MILLION
The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, which includes more than 100 museums, state parks, wildlife refuges and other sites in five states and the District of Columbia, was created under the leadership of Senator Paul Sarbanes to enhance the experience of visitors to the Chesapeake Bay and its many roads, rivers and trails.
LOWER POTOMAC ESTUARY STUDY IN ST. MARY'S COUNTY, $103,000
The Corps of Engineers has been analyzing means of addressing the impact of increased development on fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, erosion and flooding, and other issues essential to maintaining the economic and environmental health of the Chesapeake Bay and the State of Maryland. This funding will complete the Lower Potomac Estuary Study in St. Mary's County.
Congressman Hoyer remains concerned by the recent discoveries of the Northern Snakehead in the Potomac River and its potential impact on native fish populations through predation, food and habitat competition. He ensured that language was included in this bill directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to report on the steps it is taking to identify, contain, and eradicate the species.
INSTITUTE FOR EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, $300,000
This funding will be used to promote the vision of full service community schools which are public elementary or secondary schools that coordinate multiple federal, state and/or local educational and social service programs through community-based organizations and public/private partnerships. This funding will go towards advancing strategies to promote the expansion of full service community schools across the country. Congressman Hoyer has secured a total of $800,000 for the Institute since 2003 and introduced legislation this year to expand full service community schools nationwide.
THE MILTON S. EISENHOWER FOUNDATION, $250,000
This funding will be used to evaluate and replicate full service community schools, including a site in Charles County, at General Smallwood Middle School. At Smallwood, 168 students are participating in the support and enrichment activities. Congressman Hoyer has secured a total of $500,000 for this project since 2003.
CHILDREN'S CHORUS OF MARYLAND, $100,000
The Children's Chorus of Maryland provides children with vocal music education and with performance opportunities equal to their accomplishments and to the organization's curriculum standards. This funding will help the Children's Chorus set up a music education and performance program in Prince George's County.
MARYLAND WEB-BASED LEARNING PROJECT, $250,000
This funding will assist the Maryland State Department of Education with a project to develop student curriculum resources for online courses. Funds will be used to help develop and implement a study to evaluate the effectiveness of web-enhanced instruction. The initial study will focus on six Maryland classrooms representing four school systems, including Charles County. These funds will also be used for professional development in the area of online resources, and will be conducted in cooperation with Howard Community College and the University of Maryland College Park.
Best Buddies Maryland to receive $250,000 to expand its programs in Maryland. Best Buddies is a unique mentoring program that fosters one-to-one friendship programs for people with intellectual disabilities and volunteers.
Rebuilding Together, which has several chapters throughout Maryland including in Southern Maryland to receive $400,000.
REHABILITATION OF SOUTH CAPITOL STREET/FREDERICK DOUGLASS BRIDGE, $4.5 MILLION
Because the freeway system proposed for the District of Columbia was never finished, South Capitol Street and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway are incomplete fragments of that transportation network. This funding would be used for structural repairs and safety improvements of South Capitol Street and the Frederick Douglass Bridge from the Southeast-Southwest Freeway (I-395/I-695) to Firth Sterling Avenue and will improve access to Washington, DC while increasing the safety of residents, commuters and visitors as they travel into the city. Congressman Hoyer secured $500,000 in federal funds to conduct a study of the South Capitol Gateway, and secured $7 million in fiscal year 2004, and $20 million with Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in the House-passed Highway bill this year for the rehabilitation of South Capitol Street and the Frederick Douglass Bridge.