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Cardin Leads Senate Effort To Advance Bay Programs

July 10th, 2017 by WCBC Radio

Prior to the Independence Day work period, U.S. Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), joined with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues to move forward legislation that would reauthorize marquis programs at the heart of restoring and maintaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. S. 1514, the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation (HELP) for Wildlife Act was introduced recently with Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).

“A healthy Bay means a healthy economy for Maryland and the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed region, which cannot be accomplished without a reliable federal partner. I urge appropriators to take note of the bipartisan support for authorizing these programs, despite the president’s lack of understanding of their worthiness,” said Senator Cardin. “States rely on the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program to provide federal accountability, enforceability, and resources to restore the health of this national treasure. Combined with reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Initiative, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and protection for our fish and birds, this bipartisan bill is a significant victory for the Bay. Less pollution means more oysters and crabs, healthier farmland, more boats and tourism on the water, and more jobs.”

Among other things, the HELP for Wildlife Act will:

Reauthorize and fund the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program until 2023 at $90 million per year—more than the program has ever been funded in its history. This unique regional partnership, managed by EPA through the Chesapeake Bay Program's Annapolis, Maryland Office, helps program partners collaborate to achieve the goals of the voluntary, bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Agreement.

Reauthorizing the program authorization is critical for appropriations legislation to reject the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate the program’s funding.

Reauthorize and fund the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails network and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Grants Assistance Program until 2023, which provides $6 million per year throughout the watershed in technical and financial assistance to state, community, and non-governmental partners to increase access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Reauthorize and fund the North American Wetlands Conservation Act until 2023, which provides grants to increase and protect wetlands which not only provide habitat for wildlife, but also reduce the severity of flooding and coastal erosion, and improve water quality. In the 2014-2015 grant period alone, Maryland received $1 million from the NAWCA program which was leveraged with nearly $3 million in additional contributions by outside partners to protect 1600 acres of wetlands in the state.

Reauthorize and fund the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation until 2023. As the nation’s largest conservation grant-maker, NFWF has be instrumental in completing conservation projects in Maryland and around the Chesapeake. In 2016, the state received nearly $5 million dollars in funding for projects protecting and restoring habitat for fish and wildlife.

Reauthorize and fund the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act until 2023, which was first created by Congress in 2002. The bill authorizes $6.5 million to be spent each year on conservation projects that protects more than 350 different species of birds that summer in the United States and winter in the Tropics. There are 21 state birds that are neotropical migrants, including Maryland’s Baltimore Oriole.

Codify the National Fish Habitat Partnership, a collaboration public agencies, private citizens, and nonprofits for promoting fish conservation. America is home to more than 3000 species of fish, and 22% of stream miles in the country are at high or very high risk of current habitat degradation.

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