CBF acts as a watchdog to elevate good practices for healing our waterways, while being vigilant in opposing projects or proposals that would degrade water quality. Our scientists submit comments to governing bodies regarding fisheries management, wetlands mitigation, stormwater issues, construction and development projects and more. CBF is a well-respected resource on environmental issues that impact the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, and streams.
Here are just a few recent accomplishments:
In Virginia, CBF worked to secure clean-water funding in Virginia's budget but faced strong headwinds given the state's $1.28 billion shortfall. The final budget contained an additional $8.2 million in funding for the Agriculture Cost-Share Program (for a total of approximately $17 million for the program) and, unfortunately, zero dollars for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund. We will continue advocating for funding in 2018. There were several bills introduced in 2017 that sought to weaken current fisheries regulations. We worked to defeat a bill that would have allowed watermen to transport dredging equipment across sanctuary oyster reefs and another that sought to weaken penalties for poaching. We also opposed legislation that sought to undermine the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. Fortunately, after CBF and others worked with the bill's patron, the legislation was tabled for the year.
In Maryland, CBF took a strong stand for some of the watershed's best natural filters for pollution—oysters and trees. In addition to monitoring over 150 bills during the 2017 legislative session, CBF advocated for the Oyster Sanctuary Bill (HB924), which passed through the House and the Senate with bipartisan support, reinforcing the importance of oysters to the Chesapeake Bay. Our Forest Conservation Bill (HB599/SB365)—our biggest pre-session priority—stalled in the House Environment and Transportation Committee, but we're looking forward to continuing the fight for forests in 2018. As we look ahead, we remain committed to protecting the Chesapeake Bay's most precious natural filters.
In Pennsylvania, CBF advocated with partners for additional EPA funding which resulted in an additional $28 million towards agriculture conservation initiatives, helped craft legislation supporting efforts to reduce pollution, blocked legislation that would weaken pollution-reduction efforts, and assisted the York County Planning Commission in creating a county-wide Chesapeake Bay pollution-reduction plan among its 45 municipalities. CBF student leaders authored a bill that passed the state Senate and is in the state House to designate the Eastern hellbender as the Commonwealth's official state amphibian. Clean water is vital to the hellbender's survival.