Urban canopy shades a stretch of Q Street. in NW D.C. in July 2020. Grant recipient American Rivers will develop a Tree Equity Analyzer to identify communities that would benefit from urban canopy enhancement. (Photo by Carlin Stiehl/Chesapeake Bay Program)

From working with farmers in Pennsylvania to restoring degraded streams in Virginia, this year’s 49 Chesapeake Stewardship Fund grant recipients will each leave their positive mark on the Chesapeake Bay and its 64,000 square-mile watershed.

Since 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided approximately $83 million dollars to fund 985 projects across the watershed through the Chesapeake Stewardship Fund. Managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the fund awards two types of grants:

  • Small Watershed Grants (SWG): Awarded to local governments and non-governmental organizations that are working to protect and improve local waters and habitats across the Bay watershed while building community-based stewardship.
  • Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants (INSR): Support innovative solutions to reduce or eliminate nutrient and sediment pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

During a recent online event, representatives from EPA, NFWF and the U.S. Congress announced that this year’s SWG program would award $10 million to innovation projects across the watershed. Here are just a few of the winners:

  • The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will implement a green jobs initiate to create an accessible, park-like corridor in the Fulton Hill Business District in Richmond, Virginia. The green infrastructure that will be installed will capture stormwater runoff, reduce urban heat islands and remove pollutants.
  • Restoration and construction of oyster reefs in the St. Mary’s River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland will continue. The St. Mary’s County River Association will use the award to engage community members to volunteer to make habitat structures, improve bottom substrate, grow spat, plant seed and conduct monitoring.
  • Funding will permit the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center to implement a learning model in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia that seeks to improve water quality through integration with local hazard mitigation planning.
  • Trout Unlimited will replace an undersized culvert in Coventry, New York, opening up 2.8 miles of fish passage for the native brook trout and other species.
  • In Washington, D.C., funding went to American Rivers to build a “Tree Equity Score Analyzer,” which will be used to identify communities where enhancing their tree canopy would have the most social and environmental impact, allowing jurisdictions to prioritize their resources where needed.
  • Manheim Township, Pennsylvania will restore degraded stream channels along Landis Run, Bachman Run and a tributary of the Little Conestoga River, which will reduce pollution and improve the health and function of these waterways.

A complete list of the 2021 Chesapeake Stewardship Fund SWG recipients can be found at: https://www.nfwf.org/sites/default/files/2021-10/NFWF-Chesapeake-20211012-GS.pdf.

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