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:
District of Columbia
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.
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:
In addition, each state and the federal agencies will implement strategies and actions to: