Two New Bills To Restore The Chesapeake Bay

by Benjamin L. Cardin
U.S. Congressman, 3rd District

The Chesapeake Bay is Maryland's greatest natural resource. As the world's largest estuary, the Bay is the foundation for the ecological and economic health of the entire mid-Atlantic region.
That is why we as Marylanders must remain committed to efforts to preserve and restore the Bay. To strengthen that commitment, I recently joined Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in introducing two major pieces of environmental legislation to restore the natural habitat of the Bay and to create an interconnected network of say sites and waterways for educational and recreational use.
In introducing the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act, my goal is to build upon the highly successful Federal-state-local partnership to "Save the Bay." This legislation would update the Bay restoration program by clarifying the role of the Environmental Protection Agency as coordinator of activities. It also would establish a small grants program for local projects; integrate ongoing habitat restoration and toxics reduction work; and commit Federal landholders in the Bay watershed to program goals.
Maryland has made great strides over the last two decades, working with Virginia and Pennsylvania, in restoring the Bay. But our work is far from over. For every victory like the return of the striped bass, there have been losses like the devastated oyster population. That's why it is so important for Congress to reexamine the Bay restoration program periodically and update it so that it will remain as effective as possible.
I am also pleased to join Rep. Gilchrest in introducing the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Act. Rep. Gilchrest's proposal is an innovative piece of legislation that would allow the Secretary of Interior to identify key sites, access points and bodies of water throughout the bay region. Efforts will then be made to protect and promote these sites and to connect them through road tours and waterways.
Marylanders are fortunate to have strong support for the Chesapeake Bay among our delegation in Congress. Sen. Paul Sarbanes recently introduced these two pieces of legislation in the Senate.
The Bay has been referred to as the "jewel" of Maryland. We need to preserve that "jewel" and make sure it continues to shine. We can do that as long as we maintain a strong Federal-state-local partnership working to preserve the Chesapeake Bay.

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This story was published on June 5, 1997.