Mikulski, Sarbanes Announce Federal Funding For Key Chesapeake Bay And Environmental Projects - Southern Maryland Headline News

Mikulski, Sarbanes Announce Federal Funding For Key Chesapeake Bay And Environmental Projects

Over $40 Million Included for Bay-Related Projects Doubles Federal Investment in Crab and Oyster Restoration

Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes today announced that several key Chesapeake Bay and environmental projects are included in the conference report on the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies 2006 spending bill. Both Senators have a long record of making the Chesapeake Bay a priority in federal spending bills.

"The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders - our heritage and 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."

"With Senator Mikulski at the helm of this important Appropriations Subcommittee, we have been able to provide significant resources for our on-going efforts to restore the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, its habitat, and the fish and shellfish that are a vital part of the Bay and Maryland's economic livelihood," added Senator Sarbanes.

Oysters, Crabs And Water Quality

The spending bill includes:

- $5 million for the Blue Crab Advanced Research Consortium to continue efforts to produce and release juvenile blue crabs into the environment.

- $4 million for native oyster restoration in Maryland waters. This funding will plant disease-free oysters in the Bay and is double the amount provided in 2005.

- $2 million for Bay oyster restoration by VIMS. These funds will also contribute to restoring disease-free oyster bars throughout Chesapeake waters.

- $4 million for Chesapeake Bay land preservation. This funding is to help local communities purchase land from willing sellers for conservation vital to protecting the Bay watershed.

NOAA Research, Facilities And Education

The bill also includes:

- $8.5 million for NOAA's new Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, located at the University of Maryland at College Park. This is the final installment of construction funding for this new facility, which will replace NOAA's World Weather Building located in Camp Springs. The new Center will provide atmosphere and ocean monitoring and prediction services to the nation. Construction is expected to be completed in 2007.

- $6 million for NOAA's Oxford Cooperative Laboratory. The Oxford lab is one of the preeminent research centers in the nation for its work in diagnosing diseases affecting living marine resources, including oysters. This includes $4.5 million for operations, and $1.5 million to relocate facilities out of a floodplain.

- $3.5 million for the Chesapeake Bay Studies program, which supports 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.

- $3.5 million for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program, which educates and involves students in the stewardship of Bay resources.

- $700,000 to monitor and assess the Bay's bluefish, menhaden and striped bass populations.

Environmental Partnerships With Maryland Institutions

The Senators also secured:

- $3 million for the Alliance for Coastal Technologies at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences' (UMCES) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, to test development and application of new technologies that observe the coastal environment.

- $1.5 million to launch the Advanced Study Institute for Environmental Prediction at the University of Maryland at College Park. This new institute will draw on and expand the capabilities of NOAA and NASA in modeling and predicting changes in the Earth's environment.

- $1.2 million for the National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB) for conservation, education and outreach activities.

- $1 million for the Center for Urban Environmental Research at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County to research watershed science, the social, environmental and economic impacts of urban development, and the fate and transport of contaminants from rural and urban land use.

In the next step of the appropriations process, the bill will move back to the House and Senate floors for final votes. Once passed by the House and Senate, the bill will go to the President for his signature.

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