June 1, 2012
Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Call Mid-Shore Home
Opening of Easton office signals what many already noticed: CBF has intensified activities on the Eastern Shore, particularly in mid-shore area
(EASTON, MD)— The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has intensified its work on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and on June 11 the region's largest environmental group dedicated to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its local creeks and rivers officially will open an office in Easton.
"This is the most important moment in the history of the Save the Bay effort, and the Eastern Shore is a critical place where we must succeed," said Alan Girard, director of CBF's Eastern Shore Office. "The counties and communities of the Eastern Shore can be models for the rest of the Bay region. We can leave our children and grandchildren cleaner water; make our water once again teem with grasses, crabs, and oysters; and also increase jobs—all at the same time."
In recent months, CBF has been strengthening its presence and activities on the Eastern Shore, especially in the mid-shore area: moving into an office in the Bullitt House on E. Dover Street, increasing staff, and most importantly working with local government, business, environmental and other groups and individuals to help turn the corner on local pollution reductions. The official opening of the Bullitt House offices on June 11 will mark that new commitment to the Shore by the organization. CBF acknowledges the generosity of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and the Town Creek Foundation for helping make the new facility possible.
CBF's recent efforts on the Eastern Shore include:
- Exploring innovative means to reduce pollution on farms and in towns and cities at modest cost. As part of that effort CBF has worked with Talbot County's Department of Public Works and farmers to support retrofits of existing agricultural and roadside drainage ditches to reduce contaminated runoff from both farms and developed areas. The work is ongoing.
- Helping build community interest in stormwater management. For instance, CBF has worked extensively with officials and residents in Oxford, and organized a tour and work session in March attended by 50 town residents, and all three commissioners. CBF also is helping the town look for possible funding.
- Educating and motivating citizens to help support clean water efforts. CBF organized Clean Water Week activities in Easton in November which drew hundreds of participants for five nights of programs.
- Fighting back against efforts to increase pollution in the area. That effort included joining Queen Anne's Conservation Association and Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy in petitioning in state Circuit Court to block Queen Anne's County's attempt to illegally rezone property from rural use to commercial and industrial use near the headwaters of the Wye River. CBF also organized public comment at town meetings of Congressman Andrew Harris who wishes to gut the new efforts to clean the Bay by 2025.
- Helping local counties and towns explore how they can contribute to the clean-up effort. CBF partnered with the Maryland Association of Counties last fall to produce an all-day symposium for local elected leaders and staff. Nearly 50 attended the meeting in St. Michael's. CBF also regularly attends work sessions around the area where officials work to fashion their own Watershed Implementation Plans.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America. It was once a "protein factory" and the prolific source of jobs and prosperity. Sadly, pollution has killed aquatic life, and laid off thousands of workers in the seafood and other industries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the six states within the Bay watershed, and the District of Columbia, have committed to a blueprint to achieve clean water in the Bay and its tributaries. This blueprint contains specific goals and accountability unlike anything tried in the nearly three decades of attempts to save the Bay. But the success of the effort will depend largely on how much local counties, towns, and citizens participate.
CBF fights for bold and creative solutions to the Bay's problems. Across the six-state Chesapeake watershed, CBF sets the agenda and serves as a watchdog for the Bay's interests. CBF fights for strong and effective laws and regulations and works cooperatively with government, business, and citizens. When necessary, we use legal means to force compliance with existing laws. We restore the Bay's essential habitats and filtering mechanisms—such as forests, wetlands, underwater grasses, and oysters—through a variety of hands-on projects. Finally, CBF's environmental education program introduces residents to the wonders of the watershed, and works to heighten sensitivity, increase knowledge, and empower citizens to take positive action toward the Bay's restoration.