Congress and the Chesapeake – Funding Necessary to Restore the Bay

  • In October, a comprehensive piece of legislation known as the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE Act) was signed into law.
  • The ACE Act encompassed over a dozen conservation and access policies, including a program known as the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD).
  • While many of the programs contained in the ACE Act were reauthorizations providing for an extension of an existing program, the bill also contained a handful of new programs such as the Chesapeake WILD Act.
  • It is critical that Congress provide money to implement the Chesapeake WILD program.

Why it matters: Once legislation passes Congress and is signed into law, the rubber really begins to meet the road when the enacted program is implemented by the Executive Branch. In the case of the Chesapeake WILD program, Congress authorized $15 million a year for the program, but did not provide any money. Therefore, Congress must provide money to the program before hunters, anglers, and others begin to see the benefits of Chesapeake WILD. That is why the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget to request that Congress fund the WILD program with full funding at $15 million for the next Fiscal Year.

Situated in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region, the Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary and serves as a critical resource for America’s sportsmen and women. While there are some promising signs that the health of the bay is improving, additional conservation is needed to return the Chesapeake to historical levels.

The Chesapeake Bay is not only a cultural staple for residents in the Mid-Atlantic region, it also serves as a critical resource for America’s sportsmen and women up-and-down the Atlantic coastline. It is estimated that nearly one million waterfowl migrate to the Chesapeake for their wintering grounds, or nearly one-third of the Atlantic Coast’s migratory waterfowl population. Furthermore, it is estimated that 70-90 percent of all Atlantic Striped Bass, the region’s most popular fishery, annually spawn in the Chesapeake.

Much of the effort to restore the Chesapeake’s health is focused on the immediate area. However, the bay is also heavily influenced by the water quality in headwaters beginning in states such as New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, which are all part of the 64,000 square mile watershed.

The Chesapeake WILD program was developed with the goal of providing financial assistance to state and local partners to conduct on-the-ground restoration efforts such as riparian buffer zones, stream health projects, tidal and non-tidal wetland restoration, increasing habitat for migratory waterfowl, restoring eastern brook trout habitat, among others. Funding provided to the Chesapeake WILD program will go directly to projects in states within the watershed.

The health and quality of the Chesapeake is dependent on buy-in from all states within the watershed, not just those that are physically touching the bay, which is why it is crucial for Congress to provide $15 million to the new program.

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Recently, two Montana state representatives have proposed more aggressive legislation addressing the state's gray wolf population. These bills range from the addition of a wolf tag into big game combination tags, to year-round sanctioned harvest without a license, use of snare traps, and private reimbursement of wolf harvest. Currently, the wolf population in Montana sits at 850 wolves, which is 700 over the state’s minimum recovery goal of 150 wolves. Which of the below options for wolf management do you support? (Select all that apply)

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