Anglers enjoy Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County, Md., on June 6, 2020. (Image by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Signed in 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s latest Watershed Agreement was ground-breaking in that it included outcomes to build a more diverse community of stewards to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding watershed. Since that time, the Chesapeake Bay Program has continued to evolve its understanding and commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable partnership.

In August 2020, the Chesapeake Executive Council signed the Statement in Support of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice that directed the partnership to strengthen and improve diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) in all areas of its work. And in December 2021, the final Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Implementation Plan Strategy was unveiled, reflecting the tasks, actions, roles and responsibilities the Chesapeake Bay Program is now taking to advance DEIJ across the partnership.

To continue in our quest to make the Chesapeake Bay watershed a more welcoming place for all those that live, work and play here, we realized that it was past time to make our language more welcoming to all. As such we are recommending the removal of the term “citizen” from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, as the term is not inclusive towards non-citizens and individuals with a wide range of immigration and visa statuses.

Since the Chesapeake Bay Program is made up of a diverse partnership of federal, state and local governments, non-profit organizations and academia, it’s important to recognize that the work we do is for everyone.

As currently written, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement contains 17 instances of the word, “citizen.” The partnership is recommending the removal of this word and proposes the following edits, which can be found at https://www.chesapeakebay.net/documents/Draft_WA_Removes_Citizen_8.4.pdf.

We invite all of you to provide comments on these suggested changes. Feedback will be accepted until Friday, September 2, 2022 and can be submitted to Caroline Johnson at johnson.caroline@epa.gov.

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