September 27, 2019

Warner & Kaine join Van Hollen & Capito to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Resources for Chesapeake Bay Conservation

New Grant Program Would Provide Millions for the Bay

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) introduced legislation to provide more resources to Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts. The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act will create a new grant program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support habitat restoration in the Bay region. It is modeled after the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which is funded at $5 million annually, and would provide millions in new resources to the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to Van Hollen and Capito, the legislation is sponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

“Protecting the Bay wildlife is crucial to Maryland’s environment and economy. The Chesapeake WILD Act will provide more resources for our local partners to undertake critical conservation efforts and will create new a link between our partners on the ground and the Fish and Wildlife Service. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, and I look forward to working together to secure its passage and provide the Bay with this boost in support,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“This grant program, built on a successful model of collaboration between local landowners and conservation stakeholders, will not only improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but also improve the health of populations of species important to sportsmen and fishermen. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to introduce a bill that makes clear conservation and recreation can go hand-in-hand in the Chesapeake watershed,” said Senator Capito.

 “The Chesapeake Bay is a critical area of importance for waterfowl and for the recreational, health and economic benefits it yields to our citizens,” said David Brakhage, Director of Conservation for the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region for Ducks Unlimited.  “DU appreciates the leadership of Senators Van Hollen and Capito for introducing the Chesapeake WILD Act, which will make a big difference in habitat conservation in the bay.”

“Healthy habitats, like forests and wetlands, are essential to restoring clean water across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Not only does habitat restoration and protection provide food and shelter to fish and wildlife, but it also reduces flooding and keeps pollution from entering our local waterways. The Chesapeake WILD Act will go a long way toward restoring and protecting fish and wildlife habitats in our region and ultimately help our movement to clean the rivers and streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Kristin Reilly, Director, Choose Clean Water Coalition.

“The Chesapeake Headwaters are home to many thousands of miles of wild trout streams, and protecting and restoring them is a long-standing priority for TU,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President for Government Affairs at Trout Unlimited. “The Chesapeake WILD Act will help us and our partners complete on-the-ground projects that provide multiple benefits: improved fish and wildlife habitat, cleaner drinking water for citizens, flood resiliency for local communities, and economic benefits for the entire Bay region. We thank Senators Van Hollen and Capito for their leadership.”

“Healthy habitats are vital for iconic species in the Chesapeake Bay region, and benefit people with water quality and recreation opportunities,” said Senator Cardin. “The Fish & Wildlife Service is a key federal agency partner in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. This legislation will further leverage the Service’s unique strengths in habitat restoration and wildlife recovery in the watershed.”

“Virginia is home to a rich population of wildlife that enhances our Commonwealth’s natural beauty and boosts our economy,”  Senator Kaine said. “This legislation will reinforce our commitment to protecting their habitat and keeping the Chesapeake Bay watershed healthy.”

“The Chesapeake Bay is an ecological treasure and an important economic engine that supports thousands of jobs in Virginia,” said Sen. Warner. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce legislation to boost investment and provide the tools necessary to restore and protect the Bay for future generations to enjoy.”

“I am proud to cosponsor the Chesapeake WILD Act to create a grant program that will enhance the fish and wildlife species through habitat restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region, an incredible wildlife area that includes multiple counties in West Virginia. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to establish this grant system within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve habitats in our state and across the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Senator Manchin.

The text of the legislation is available here. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.