(Annapolis, MD)—At a press conference today at the Chesapeake Ecology Center, Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) and Congressman Ben Cardin (MD-3) announced that 4 organizations throughout the greater Washington D.C. metro area were among 28 statewide recently chosen to receive funding from federal agencies as part of the Chesapeake Bay Programs Small Watershed Grants Initiative. This program is intended to help local groups preserve and restore stream corridors in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. A grand total of more than $1 million was awarded to the 28 Maryland recipients this year.
These small grants are making a big difference in promoting citizen-based stewardship and helping to repair degraded watersheds throughout the Chesapeake Bay basin, said Senator Sarbanes. And who better to do this work than local community groups the river organizations, schools, scouts, home owner associations, land trusts who have the local knowledge, energy and passion to care for their streams and natural resources or the local governments which are responsible for local land use and other important decisions.
Maryland communities want to stand up for the health of the Chesapeake Bay, but they can't do it on their own. The Chesapeake Bay Targeted Watershed Grants Program is critical to the health of the Bay and its rivers and streams, said Senator Mikulski. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and part of our identity as Marylanders. That's why Senator Sarbanes and I work hard to fund effective projects that save the Bay and help the Marylanders who depend on it for jobs and for recreation.
The Chesapeake Watershed Grant program is a critical tool in preserving the Bay for future generations. Congress provides the funding, but it's the individuals and communities closest to the Bay doing the actual work of restoring and protecting the Bay and its many tributaries, said Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a strong advocate of the program.
Those Greater Washington D.C. area projects receiving funding are:
* The Anacostia Watershed Society will use a $50,000 grant to restore areas of the Anacostia River watershed through invasive plant control and the re-vegetation of native plants. The pilot re-vegetation project will be conducted to restore a 70-meter band of crushed stone embankments with native plants with the participation of 1,500 volunteers and 26 community-based organizations;
* The Low Impact Development Center will use a $35,000 grant to produce a series of rain garden, low lying bio retention areas designed to absorb excess run-off and prevent soil erosion, design templates for use by landscape architects, contractors, garden clubs and private citizens. The templates will target homeowners and provide everything one needs to know about construction and maintaining a successful rain garden;
* The University of Maryland Inc. will use a $35,000 to continue to develop a training program for local officials and community leaders focusing on implementation and financing of watershed protection and restoration plans. The project will also finalize a guidebook and transition it into the financing training program with supplemental materials; and
* The Sustainable Development Institute will use a $35,00 grant to demonstrate the potential of farmed, selectively bred native oysters to improve local water quality and biodiversity and increase the harvest from its now very low level. This project will deploy 10 oyster floats into the St. Mary's River and engage community volunteers and students in managing and monitoring the contribution that farmed oysters have on the Bay.
In addition, two statewide projects are slated to receive funding:
* The Cacapon Institute will use a $35,000 grant to recruit science, social studies, and vocational-agricultural classes from high schools throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to participate in an internet-based Stream Cleaner Environmental Forum on best management practices to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. The Forum will engage students in a simulated Tributary Team stakeholder process to explore the science and challenges of non-point source pollution reduction. Following the Forum, up to 10 classes will complete water quality restoration projects to serve as visible demonstrations of best management practices as well as living classrooms for future academic study; and
* The Izaak Walton League of America will use a $35,000 grant to hold workshops to train 60 certified volunteers to conduct water quality monitoring throughout Maryland. Monitoring will occur at 100 sites throughout Maryland and will be integrated into an annual water quality report. Data gathered during this study will be used to identify and prioritize watershed restoration projects that volunteers with Izaak Walton League can undertake in the future.
The Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program, which was established by Senator Sarbanes, promotes community-based efforts to develop and implement conservation strategies to protect and restore the diverse natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. The program provides grants to local governments and community organizations working to improve the condition of their local watersheds while building citizen-based resource stewardship. This year more than $2.6 million is being awarded for 68 restoration projects throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.