Federal Funding For Key Chesapeake Bay And Environmental Projects - Southern Maryland Headline News

Federal Funding For Key Chesapeake Bay And Environmental Projects


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes (both D-MD) today announced that several key projects in the Baltimore region are slated to receive funding in the FY05 Omnibus Appropriations bill. This legislation has passed the House of Representatives and is expected to pass the Senate. It will then be sent to the President for his signature. The more than $388 billion omnibus spending bill completes the 9 remaining appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2005. To stay within the spending constraints demanded by the White House, all programs in the bill were cut by 0.80 percent.

“The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders. It’s part of our heritage and it’s part of our culture,” said Senator Mikulski. “Maryland’s communities want to do the right thing by the Bay, but they can’t do it on their own. That’s why I have worked so hard to put money in the federal checkbook that creates jobs, builds communities and takes care of our environment.”

“We are bringing a bounty of federal funds to the State of Maryland that will aid our communities, our economy, our transportation network, and our environment; and thereby enhancing the quality of life and providing opportunities for people throughout the entire State,” added Senator Paul S. Sarbanes.

In the VA-HUD Appropriations Bill, a component of the omnibus spending bill, the Senators secured funding for three important Chesapeake Bay initiatives. The Chesapeake Bay Program is slated to receive $19.84 million for Bay restoration efforts. In addition, Senator Mikulski added $1.984 million for small watershed grants. These grants, which fund grassroots Bay restoration projects, were not funded in the Administration’s budget. Also included in this year’s bill is $7.936 million for targeted watershed grants that will fund “innovative, cost effective projects” to help reduce non-point source pollution runoff into the Bay.

Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes worked together to secure funding for the following projects in other parts of the omnibus spending bill:

· $1.984 million for natural oyster bar restoration in Maryland waters. These funds are critical to the restoration of oyster habitat and oyster reefs and planting disease-free oysters.

· $2.976 million to continue oyster reef construction baywide.

· $2.18 million for the Blue Crab Advanced Research Consortium to continue efforts for the production and release of juvenile blue crabs into the environment.

· $5.7 million to purchase four parcels of lands for conservation vital to the protection of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Coastal Bays watershed of Maryland.

· $2.48 million for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program. This program educates and involves students in the stewardship of Bay resources.

· $3.47 million for the Chesapeake Bay Studies program. This supports the continuation of fish and crab research and monitoring, the Coastal Prediction Center, submerged aquatic vegetation research grants, living resource response to toxic contamination, ecosystem modeling and community watershed restoration grants.

· $4.46 million for the Oxford Cooperative Laboratory to research blue crab health, invasive species monitoring, finfish pathology and cooperative research with Chesapeake Bay academic institutions for developing environmental indicators of Bay health.

· $2.48 million for the Alliance for Coastal Technologies to test development and application of new technologies for observations of the coastal environment.

· $248,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Living Classrooms Foundation for an environmental education program that teaches Maryland students about the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

· $2.48 million for the National Park Service Gateways and Watertrails Program. This program will continue to improve access to the Bay and focus on conserving and interpreting its cultural and natural resources.

· $744,000 for the Assateague Island National Seashore north end mitigation report. This funding will be used to ensure the geological integrity of the island and protect shore communities from flooding and erosion.

· $15 million for Poplar Island. Funds will be used to maximize the capacity of the site, achieve full environmental and economic benefits of the project, and optimize construction efficiencies.

· $358,000 for Chesapeake Bay Shoreline Erosion. Funds will be used for a feasibility study which will focus on ways to deal with the sediment behind the dams on the Susquehanna River and shoreline erosion baywide.

STAG GRANTS

The omnibus bill includes federal funding for the “State and Tribal Assistance Grants” (STAG) for special needs water and wastewater infrastructure projects. These grants are typically used for wastewater infrastructure improvements reduce the amount of nutrients entering waterways, and the associated health and environmental impacts. Maryland communities have received $3.5 million this year in STAG grants (more information available upon request.)

Senator Mikulski serves on the Appropriations Committee and is the Senior Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies. Senator Sarbanes serves on the Budget Committee.

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