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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: December 2007

Dec
01
2007

Bay Region Leaders "Champion" New Actions to Accelerate Chesapeake Clean-Up

On Wednesday, December 5, the Chesapeake Executive Council (EC) met at Maryland's historic State House in Annapolis to create history of their own by committing to “champion” specific measures aimed at accelerating Bay cleanup.

The Executive Council, which establishes the policy direction for the restoration and protection of the Bay and its living resources, includes the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the mayor of the District of Columbia; and the chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. This year, representatives from Delaware and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were also in attendance.

The purpose of each state choosing “champion” issues is to focus on those particular issues that are vital to restore the streams, rivers and Bay waters in their individual jurisdictions. The outcomes of the various projects or programs are intended to be models that can be used in other towns, municipalities, counties, cities and states. As each “champion” makes progress, it will report back to the partnership. The partners will be encouraged to consider the individual models and modify them for their respective uses.

The areas of focus for each state were:

Maryland

  • Create a regional venture capital fund to foster innovative technology advancements on water quality improvements.
  • Lead the regional effort to seek improvements in Bay Program accountability and governance structure through approaches such as Maryland's BayStat.

Virginia

  • Enhanced delivery of agriculture management practices and assistance, such as targeting conservation dollars to activities and areas with the greatest return on investment for nutrient and sediment pollution reductions.

Pennsylvania

  • Encourage Congress to pass a sound Farm Bill that would provide Bay watershed farmers with needed resources for conservation practices.
  • Along with the Chesapeake Bay Commission, sponsor a Biofuels Summit to explore ways to accelerate the use of cellulosic sources for ethanol.

District of Columbia

  • Become the watershed model for the “greening” of urban areas. To complement this effort, the District of Columbia entered into an agreement with the EPA to create a next-generation stormwater permit that will significantly reduce polluted runoff through green roofs, expanded areas of urban trees and other green practices.

Delaware

  • Investigate agriculture and forestry gas mitigation options for carbon sequestration sinks, defined as agricultural and forested lands that absorb carbon dioxide (CO²).
  • Host a carbon sequestration working session for the watershed states and other Bay program partners in the coming year.

West Virginia

  • Will co-champion with Maryland efforts to engage local governments in upstream communities to share experiences and techniques to restore and protect the streams that run into the Bay.

One area of focus that all members of the EC committed to champion was forest conservation. At the meeting, the EC announced a collective goal of preserving 695,000 acres of forestland throughout the entire Bay watershed.



Dec
01
2007

New Conservation Goals Aim to Protect More Chesapeake Forests

At its annual meeting in early December, the Chesapeake Executive Council (EC) signed the Forestry Conservation Initiative, committing the Bay states to permanently conserve an additional 695,000 acres of forested land throughout the watershed by 2020.

Chesapeake forests are crucial to maintaining water quality in the Bay and its tributaries. They also safeguard wildlife habitat, contribute billions of dollars to the economy, protect public health, provide recreation opportunities and enhance quality of life for the watershed's 17 million residents.

Despite these benefits, forests in the Bay watershed are at risk. In the Bay region alone, some 750,000 acres - equivalent to 20 Washington, D.C.s - have been felled since the early 1980s, a rate of 100 acres per day. By 2030, 9.5 million more acres of forest will see increased development pressure.

There are four overarching goals to the Forestry Conservation Initiative:

By 2020, permanently protect an additional 695,000 acres of forest from conversion to other land uses such as development, targeting forests in areas of highest water quality value. As part of this goal, 266,400 acres of forest land under threat of conversion will be protected by 2012.

By 2020, accelerate reforestation and conservation in:

  • Urban and suburban areas by increasing the number of communities with commitments to tree canopy expansion goals to 120.
  • Riparian forest buffers by reaching a restoration rate of 900 miles per year until 70 percent of all stream miles in the watershed are buffered over the long term.
  • By 2010, work with local governments, legislative delegations, land trusts or other stakeholders to create or augment dedicated sources of local funding, such as through ballot initiatives, for the conservation of forests important to water quality. Where possible, the states will support these through incentive programs (e.g., matching grants).
  • By 2009, establish and implement a mechanism to track and assess forest land cover change at the county and township scale every five years, and to deliver this capacity to local governments, watershed groups and other partners.

In addition, each state and the federal agencies will implement strategies and actions to:

  • Establish policies that discourage conversion of valuable forestlands.
  • Collaborate with local governments to incorporate forest conservation into their land use plans and ordinances.
  • Establish strong economic incentives for working forest landowners.
  • Use forests as green infrastructure to reduce nutrient loads from development.
  • Use federal Farm Bill programs to support working forest conservation.


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