(WASHINGTON, DC)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauded proposed funding increases for Bay watershed education and oyster restoration and research in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) fiscal year 2021 budget. The added funds are included in the fiscal 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science spending bill reported out of the House Appropriations Committee today by a 30-22. NOAA is part of the Commerce Department.
The bill would boost spending on the regional Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program from $7.75 million this year to $8 million in 2021. NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office administers the B-WET program in the watershed. It gives students and teachers across the 64,000 square-mile region the chance to learn firsthand about the scientific value and wonder of the Bay ecosystem.
The bill also calls for a nearly $2 million increase for the Habitat Conservation and Restoration account, which funds NOAA’s contributions to large-scale oyster restoration and research efforts in the Bay, from $57.1 million this year to $59 million next year. The House Appropriations Committee encouraged NOAA to support Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration in the report accompanying the bill.
NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office supports the habitat monitoring, restoration, and protection goals of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Scientific data gathered by this office is critical for managing and restoring populations of oysters, blue crabs, striped bass, and other ecologically and commercially important species.
CBF Federal Executive Director Jason Rano issued the following statement about the bill:
“NOAA is a key federal partner in implementing the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Through its Chesapeake Bay Office, NOAA contributes invaluable restoration and education programs and technical assistance to the federal-state-local Bay cleanup effort.
“NOAA also oversees the strategy to bolster the native oyster population and helps manage the regional fisheries at the heart of our multibillion-dollar seafood industry.
“CBF thanks Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee member Matt Cartwright as well as Subcommittee Chairman Jose Serrano and Ranking Member Robert Aderholt for their leadership ensuring NOAA continues to play a vital role in restoring the health of this amazing natural resource.”
CBF Vice President of Education Tom Ackerman issued the following statement about the B-WET program, which supports environmental education:
“Research shows that high-quality environmental education has tremendous benefits for academic achievement and student engagement. The B-WET program not only promotes environmental literacy, it directs much-need funds to underserved school districts in low-income communities.
“Educating the next generation of conservationists is critical to saving the Chesapeake Bay. That’s why this funding increase is so important. By bringing schools and nonprofits together to create real-world learning experiences for students, B-WET sets the standard for environmental education.”