Van Hollen, Cardin Announce $575,000 for Chesapeake Bay Wildlife Habitat Restoration

October 20, 2022

Federal funding comes from the Chesapeake WILD Program, created by legislation authored by Senator Van Hollen and sponsored by Senator Cardin

Today, United States Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both Democrats from Maryland) announced $575,000 in federal funding through the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for two wildlife habitat restoration projects to along the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. These are some of the first grants awarded by the Chesapeake WILD Program, which was created by bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Van Hollen and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.), and cosponsored by Senator Cardin and signed into the United States Conservation Improvement Act (ACE). The first of its kind in FWS specifically for habitat restoration in the Bay Basin, the program was funded with $4 million in fiscal year 2022 and will support a regional network of locally driven efforts by stakeholders.

“From the residents and tourists who love to explore the Chesapeake Bay to the watermen who depend on it for their livelihoods, restoring the Bay’s natural habitat for wildlife is critical to their health and the health of our regional economy. That’s why I launched the successful bipartisan effort to establish the Chesapeake WILD Program, which supports these new partnerships between the Fish and Wildlife Service and local conservationists in an effort to preserve the Bay. These investments are more important than ever as we continue to fight to protect one of our greatest treasures.” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Subcommittee on Appropriations for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

“Our Chesapeake forests and wetlands are critical natural resources that provide numerous social benefits, including fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, erosion control, and clean water.” said Senator Cardin. “This investment by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and local partners focused on improving habitat, as well as recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, will complement the Bay’s restoration effort and further enhance resiliency in Basin”.

The aid has been awarded as follows:

  • $500,000 for the protection of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s Blackwater-Nanticoke Habitat Migration Corridor: The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is proposing to conduct outreach activities and complete conservation easements in the identified region to assist with wildlife habitat migration between Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Nanticoke River. Based on existing prices and the availability of equivalent dollars, ESLC plans to protect between 350 and 400 acres of strategic wildlife habitat in Dorchester County.
  • $75,000 for the restoration of Northwest Creek, Kent Island: Northwest Creek is a 100-acre formal tidal inlet on Kent Island that has been plagued by deteriorating water quality for many years. Alliance to Restore Northwest Creek (ARNC) is seeking funding to secure expertise that will produce a final restoration design and acquisition of federal and state permits. This includes preparing the permit application and providing technical documentation required by federal and state permitting organizations. These documents require expertise that the ARNC does not have and the funds required far exceed what the organization can obtain organically. The restoration project will create new habitat for shallow-water fish species and protected breeding grounds for other wildlife through the creation of 15 acres of Spartina Islands, 8 acres of live shorelines, and 4 acres of marsh habitat.

This grant program is modeled after the Chesapeake WILD Act, led by Senators Van Hollen and Capito and sponsored by Senator Cardin, language that was enacted through the United States Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE). largest in 2020. It is designed to assist local partners with on-the-ground work to improve progress toward priorities set forth in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, such as the next activities:

  • restoration of riparian forest buffer zones;
  • Improve the health of the stream;
  • Restoration of tidal and non-tidal wetlands;
  • Improve fish habitat;
  • Expansion of black duck populations;
  • Restore and protect eastern brook trout and their habitat; Y
  • Elimination of barriers to fish migration in freshwater systems.

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