Cousins Dior Torris and Karter Sims look for turtles and koi fish on the boardwalk at Patterson Park, which provides valued green space in the heart of Baltimore. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)

The Chesapeake Bay Program formally recognized how vital the inclusion of all types of voices and communities is to the success of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort when the partnership committed to a Diversity Outcome in its most recent Watershed Agreement, signed in 2014.

This commitment to ensuring that the Bay Program is reflective of the population of the watershed that it serves has only continued to grow since then. We’ve now released two diversity profiles, and in 2020, the Chesapeake Executive Council signed a statement directing the partnership to strengthen and improve diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) in all areas of our work.

This Statement in Support of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice was informed by a comprehensive strategy created by an independent consultant in 2019-2020 that provided recommendations for how the Chesapeake Bay Program could better integrate DEIJ principles into our work, as well as provide a framework and the necessary tools to help our partners become DEIJ leaders throughout the watershed and the greater environmental movement. These recommendations take us far beyond just hiring more diverse staff. And while that’s important, it’s also critical that we examine our policies, culture and influence to make some vital changes. How can we create organizational change that will positively impact the communities and residents throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed? We want this plan to inform how we think about our grants, our funding and our on-the-ground restoration work.

Over the past year, our partners have been working hard to make this strategy and the ensuing directive come to life. The result is the Chesapeake Bay Program DEIJ Strategy Implementation Plan. This document lays out a roadmap for us to follow in order to meet the above-mentioned recommendations.

Now we are ready to see what you think of our plans. We want to hear from you—the organizations, communities, businesses and individuals—that make up the beautiful diversity of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We want this implementation plan to drive change for all of us. Is it realistic? Will it make an impact? And the bottom line—is it achievable?

For the next 45 days, you are invited to view this draft plan and let us know what you think. It will be available from Monday, August 23, 2021, to Monday, September 27, 2021. You can email your comments to or give us a call and leave us a message at (410) 934-7141.

To assist you in weeding through the dense, bureaucratic language of this document, we’ve created several resources to help you out. On our DEIJ Action Team’s website, you will soon find a backgrounder that explains the high-level activities of the implementation plan, and a webinar.

Through your insights and feedback, we hope to begin building a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and just partnership that makes a greater impact in the watershed’s most underserved communities. Your collaboration during this critical step is vital to achieving those goals.



Nancy Lutz

I am the present chair of the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, and I support any kind of outreach that will help us reach our goals. We have a WVCA employee who coordinated Bay programs and does so much work with the agricultural community. My target since becoming a supervisor is to reach out to the residential community. Indiscriminate use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides contribute to the existing problems in the Bay. Feel free to contact me if there is anything we as an ag community can do to help. This would be a great topic for discussion at one of our statewide quarterly meetings

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