U.S. Senate Approves Funding For Chesapeake Bay Restoration and Clean-Up Efforts

Senators Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has completed action on the Department of Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007 and included funding for several environmental restoration and research programs which will aid and enhance on-going efforts to restore, reclaim and clean-up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

“This federal commitment of funds is vitally important if we are to maintain our efforts in cleaning-up the Chesapeake Bay”“This federal commitment of funds is vitally important if we are to maintain our efforts in cleaning-up the Chesapeake Bay,” said Sarbanes. “During my years in the United States Senate, the health of the Chesapeake Bay has been one of my top priorities. It is unfortunate that the progress we have made over the years is being threatened by the underfunding and even zero funding by the Bush Administration for many of these important programs. The Bay’s overall health and vitality is important to us all – for our quality of life, our economy and for our leisure activities. We must continue in our efforts to revitalize and enhance this valuable body of water.”

“The Chesapeake Bay is our heritage- it is part of who we are as Marylanders”“The Chesapeake Bay is our heritage - it is part of who we are as Marylanders,” said Senator Mikulski. “I am proud to work in the Senate with my colleague, Senator Sarbanes, to put money in the federal checkbook that creates jobs, builds communities, and takes care of our environment. This money is a federal investment in the lives and livelihoods that depend on the Bay.”

Included in the bill is funding for the following programs and initiatives:

-- The Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Program is slated to receive $1.625 million, an increase of $125,000 above the level provided in fiscal year 2006. The program, first initiated in 1999, is linking the natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries into a unified network by providing grants to non-profit organizations and state and local governments. To date approximately 140 sites throughout the watershed have been designated gateway sites;

-- $1.5 million has been provided for the Chesapeake Bay Small Watersheds Grant program which helps local groups preserve and restore stream corridors in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The program was first created in 1998;

-- $26.4 million has been earmarked for the overall EPA Chesapeake Bay Program. The Committee also added new accountability provisions on the EPA Bay Program requiring the program to immediately implement all of the recent recommendations contained in a General Accountability Office Report, create a strategic action plan to maximize pollution reduction in the Bay and produce an annual report card on the health of each of the tributaries of the Bay;

-- $950,000 for the USDA’s Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry Office to support the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Office in its reforestation effort. According to reports, the states closest to the Bay lost 350,000 acres between 1987-1997 or almost 100 acres per day. This decline in forest reserves poses a threat because many forests perform many important functions such as controlling storm water runoff, erosion and air pollution, all of which are critical to the Bay clean-up effort;

-- $400,000 for new land acquisition efforts near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is the home to many bald eagles, the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel, Canadian geese and ducks and new development has encroached on the complex’s habitat; and

-- $350,000 within the USDA’s Forest Service budget to continue the Urban Watershed Forest Research and Demonstration Project Cooperative in Baltimore. The goal of the Research Cooperative – a partnership between the Parks and People Foundation, the City of Baltimore, the National Science Foundation, the Maryland Forest Service and the Urban and Community Forestry Program, among others, is to support applied research, technology transfer, urban forest restoration demonstration projects and training to both improve urban forests and watersheds and revitalize older communities in the Baltimore area.

Senator Mikulski is one of two federal senators for the state of Maryland. She is classified as a Class III Senator. Senators are elected to six-year terms, and every two years the members of one class.approximately one-third of the Senators.face election or reelection. Terms for Senators in Class I expire in 2007, Class II in 2009, and Class III in 2011.

Ms. Mikulski's website is located at http://mikulski.senate.gov/. Her office can be reached at (202) 224-4654. More biographical info on Ms. Mikulski can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Mikulski.

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