Frequently Asked Questions

Some common questions and answers about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay.


Q. Does CBF get the money for the Chesapeake Bay license plates in Maryland and Virginia? How about the money I gave on my state income tax form last year?
A. Both the license plate programs and the income tax check-off programs are fundraising efforts for The Chesapeake Bay Trust (in Maryland) and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (in Virginia), nonprofit grant making organizations created to promote public awareness and participation in the restoration and protection of the Bay and its tributaries. CBF is not affiliated with the Chesapeake Bay Trust or the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, although we have applied for and received funds from both organizations for various restoration and educational programs.

Q. Do fees assessed on my water/wastewater bill for Bay restoration go to CBF?
A. No. In 2004, the Maryland legislature established the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Restoration Fund (known as the "flush tax") to be supported by a $2.50/month fee on sewer bills and an equivalent $30.00 annual fee on septic system owners. Utilities customers saw a new line item on their quarterly bills beginning January 1, 2005 for $7.50 per quarter ($2.50/month). These funds are collected by each county and turned over to the state, which distributes the funds to utilities to upgrade wastewater treatment plants. The revenues from septic-tank users are used to upgrade or replace failing septic systems and to provide financial assistance to farmers to help plant cover crops to prevent nutrient runoff from agricultural land. More information is available on the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) web site at


Q: What kind of education programs does CBF offer?
A: Our Education Program provides meaningful watershed experiences to students and teachers. Educators can register for student field programs and for professional development programs. We also provide a Student Leadership Program for high school students. Our website offers a wide range of online resources for students, teachers, and parents.Check our website section, Participate in an Education Program, for information on all of our offerings, or check our Field Program Frequently Asked Questions.

Please note, these are not volunteer opportunities. Please see our Volunteering page for existing programs or check our Event Calendar. If you are interested in coordinating a volunteer event for CBF, please contact the relevant office.

Q: Can scout groups or youth groups participate in a field program?
A: Yes, we offer our programs to many different types of groups. Your experience can be tailored to support your goals—this planning will be done after you register, through your pre-program phone call from the program manager. Please be aware that priority is given to school groups. Visit our Student Field Programs page for information on available programs and registration.

Q. Do you have education programs for adults?
A. We offer a limited number of college and adult programs through our Education Department. For questions about available field experiences, contact our Education Program scheduling team at [email protected].

Additional adult education opportunities are available through our Membership Office and state offices: Bay Discovery Trips, Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS), and Chesapeake Captains.

Bay Discovery Trips are offered through our Membership Office at various times from spring through fall. These experiences provide CBF members with time on and around the water and introduce participants to the wonders of the Bay and what needs to be done to save it. Please see

VoiCeS programs are handled by our individual offices and are provided at different locations once a year, typically in the fall. Participants gain a deeper understanding of the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the challenges facing Bay restoration, find out the steps they can take to clean up local waterways, and learn how to engage their community and elected officials. Check our Maryland, Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Pennsylvania program pages for current information.

Clean Water Captains is a volunteer program offered through our Maryland and Virginia offices. Participants learn about the Bay and its issues and how to go out and take the message to their communities. These Bay ambassadors share information with neighbors, congregations, schools, and elected officials about policy initiatives that help restore the Bay and help create practical, effective local clean-up plans. They actively engage in advocacy-related activities. Find out more about our Maryland program and our Virginia program.

The Chesapeake Bay

Q. How is the Bay doing?
A. The Chesapeake Bay is showing encouraging signs of rebounding but is still in critical condition as a result of pollution. CBF's State of the Bay index that measures the Bay's health dropped one point to 33 in 2018. Extraordinary weather flushed enormous amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and debris off our lands and into the Bay. The good news is that Bay grasses remain intact and recent studies indicate an improving trend in uderwater dead zones over the long term. Scientists are pointing to this as evidence of the Bay's increasing resiliency. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working, but the system remains dangerously out of balance. And new challenges like climate change and a federal administration attempting to roll back fundamental environmental protections are threatening success. Read the latest State of the Bay report.

Q. What is the biggest problem facing the Bay?
A. Nitrogen pollution, primarily from stormwater and agricultural runoff, is the Bay's #1 problem. This overload of pollution seriously impairs the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers and streams that feed it.

Local Issues

Q. I have a local Bay-related issue going on in my community. Can CBF help?
A. CBF is concerned about local issues—because it's on the local level that most positive changes can and should occur. For obvious reasons, we cannot get involved in every local issue directly, so the approach we have taken is to provide training on a variety of issues to assist citizens in getting their voices heard. The training programs are a part of our Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoiCeS) program. For more information, or to get involved in your area, send an e-mail to [email protected].

Getting Involved

Q. How can I get involved in CBF?
A. There are several ways you can get involved:

Q. I've heard a lot about CBF's oyster gardening programs. How can I get involved?
A. CBF's oyster restoration program has a variety of efforts baywide to help restore and replenish dangerously low oyster populations. Citizens who live on the water can become oyster gardeners, actually growing oysters off of their docks with "spat" and training provided by CBF. Or you can volunteer to make shellbags or help us transplant adult oysters onto reefs and bars throughout the Bay. Find out more about our oyster restoration programs in Maryland and Virginia.


Q. May I donate my vehicle (car, truck, RV) to CBF?
A. Yes. Please contact Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS) at 866-398-4483 or visit the CBF CARS webpage to start the donation process.

Q. May I donate my boat to CBF?
A. Possibly. Please contact the Membership Department at [email protected] or 410-268-8816 and we will consider each donation on a case-by-case basis.

Q. In lieu of wedding gifts, may I designate CBF to receive charitable donations from my friends and family? 
A. You can use our personal online fundraising program to create a personal web page where people can make their donations directly. Learn more at

Q. In lieu of flowers, my family would like to designate CBF to receive donations in memory of a loved one. Will you notify me of the donations received so I can thank the contributors?
A. Yes. We gratefully accept memorial donations and are happy to notify the appropriate family member(s) of the names and addresses of all memorial contributors on a monthly basis. Please contact the Membership Department at [email protected] or 410-268-8816 to make the arrangements.

You can also use our personal online fundraising program to create a personal web page where people can make their donations directly. Learn more at


Q. How do I know when my membership expires?
A. Your CBF membership is valid for one year from the date of your initial membership contribution. We'll send you a renewal request two months prior to expiration to make renewing your support as easy as possible. Your annual renewal will advance your membership one year from the expiration date. If you have questions about the status of your membership, please contact the Membership Department at [email protected] or 410-268-8816.

Canvassing/Phone Calls/Mail/Email

Q. Someone came to my house last night to ask me to support CBF. Is this legitimate?
A. CBF no longer has a canvassing (door-to-door solicitation) program. If you have any questions or concerns about canvassers, please contact the Membership Department at [email protected].

Q. I received a phone call last night from someone claiming to represent CBF. Does CBF contact its members by phone?
A. CBF conducts membership renewal programs by phone two times per year. These calls let our members know that their memberships have expired or are about to expire and give them a quick, convenient method of renewing their support.

Occasionally, we will also call members with special appeals for important programs such as oyster reef restoration or habitat protection programs. We also call our members when their help is urgently needed to pass laws and regulations that protect the Bay. For these advocacy calls, we may ask that members call or write their state or federal representatives.

In most cases, our members are eager to learn about the challenges facing the Bay and what they can do to help. However, if you prefer not to receive telephone calls from CBF, just notify the Membership Department at [email protected] and we'll code your record "no call." And, of course, if you have any questions or concerns about a CBF caller, please let us know.

Q. I'm a member of CBF and I've noticed that I'm receiving more mail from other nonprofit organizations. How can I stop the mail?
A. CBF does, on occasion, trade our mail list with other carefully screened nonprofit organizations. If you would prefer that CBF not share your name, simply send your name, address, and member ID number to [email protected] and our Member Relations staff will amend your member record.

If you continue to receive unwanted mail, you may also write to the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service and let them know that you want your name removed from all mail lists. The DMA must receive the request from you in writing, and please keep in mind that the service is performed quarterly, so it may take up to three or four months for your request to be activated. You may register online at or download the registration form from the website and mail it to the address provided.

Q. How do I unsubscribe from CBF email?
A. All emails from CBF include a link at the bottom to "Change Your Email Preferences." This link will take you to a page where you can choose to unsubscribe from all CBF email or login to your personal My CBF page and select which types of email you wish to subscribe to/unsubscribe from. You can also send an e-mail to [email protected] with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line. Please include your name and regular mailing address so that we can be sure to update the correct member record. NOTE: To manage your information, click on the Log In link at the top of the page and register as a new user. It will take approximately one business day for your new account to synchronize with our member database. Access to email preferences and other preference and profile tools will be available under the Log In link after the accounts have been synchronized.

The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

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