Maryland Bay Cabinet Releases Draft Tributary Strategy Implementation Plan

ANNAPOLIS — The Governor’s Bay Cabinet today released the draft of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy Implementation Plan at the 10th Anniversary celebration of the State’s Tributary Teams. On behalf of Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary C. Ronald Franks made the announcement to more than 200 guests at the Teams’ annual meeting and awards program at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

In 2004, Governor Ehrlich released the Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy, which detailed the specific best management practices needed to achieve water quality standards in the Bay and its tributaries. Earlier this week, the Governor approved release of the draft implementation plan, which moves Maryland’s Bay restoration efforts forward by detailing programs and policies already underway as well as new initiatives and next steps needed to ramp up implementation.

“This plan presents a pragmatic, realistic assessment of what we can do in the next five years,” said Governor Ehrlich. “It also solidifies our commitment to implement the Tributary Strategy and restore the Chesapeake Bay by aligning Maryland programs, seeking new funding and fostering innovative approaches.”

“The Tributary Teams will be key to this effort, working with local governments to develop similar local plans on which Bay-wide success depends,” Governor Ehrlich continued. “We are pleased to mark their decade of extraordinary service with the release of a plan that takes Bay restoration to the next level.”

The State is seeking public comment on the plan, which will be updated as needed with new initiatives to fill funding gaps, address policy needs and support water quality programs to remove the Bay from the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of impaired waters. The Tributary Strategy, the draft implementation plan and an executive summary can be viewed at Public comments must be received by June 2, 2006.

Initiatives already enacted or proposed by Governor Ehrlich to implement the Tributary Strategy include the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, the Corsica River Restoration Project, and $5 million in Fiscal Year 2007 funding for best management practices. Since 1995, Maryland has spent $1.9 billion on Bay restoration efforts, $1.2 billion more than any other Bay state.

“Financing the restoration activities will require the support of the public and renewed investment on the part of local and federal partners, all of the Chesapeake Bay watershed states, and the private sector,” said Governor Ehrlich. “This requires not only the support of all levels of government but all branches of government. Legislative support is and will be essential to ensure that critical budget proposals are preserved. If current recommendations by the legislature’s budget office to cut the Governor’s environmental initiatives are adopted, this strategy will suffer a major setback.”

The Tributary Teams annual meeting brings together members, stakeholders and guests to share experiences and focus future efforts toward improving water quality in Maryland. The event’s keynote speaker was Patrick Noonan, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Conservation Fund.

At the meeting, the Teams recognized retired State Senator Bernie Fowler with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in raising awareness on water quality issues. Senator Fowler has inspired annual wade-ins held across the state each summer during which participants visually test water quality using the “sneaker index.”

The 2006 Bernie Fowler Award, given to the team member who has shown exceptional dedication and commitment, was awarded to George Wilmot, of Bryans Road, in Charles County. The Ellen Fraites Wagner Award was presented to Charlie Conklin of Baltimore County by the Chesapeake Bay Trust at an event in January.

Maryland Tributary Teams are comprised of 350 diverse stakeholder-members representing agriculture, local and state governments, watershed and community groups, and others who work to reduce the flow of nutrients to local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Each team meets monthly and is supported by staff housed at the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources or Planning. Their mission is to build consensus and advocate for policy solutions, to promote stewardship through education, and to coordinate activities and projects necessary to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality and assure healthy watersheds with abundant and diverse living resources.

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