The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) welcomed the House Appropriations Committee’s approval today, 33-24 of a fiscal year 2022 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would explicitly dedicate funds next year to on-going large-scale oyster restoration work in Maryland and Virginia.
The fiscal 2022 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which funds Corps projects, recommends $3.9 million for Corps’ oyster recovery work in the Bay—the same amount President Biden requested.
The report accompanying the fiscal 2022 bill puts the House Appropriations Committee on record supporting the Corps’ Chesapeake Bay Oyster Recovery Program. It also urges the Corps to seek funding for the Program in future budget requests.
The Program provides critical federal funding for large-scale oyster restoration efforts in Maryland and Virginia to meet the 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement goal of restoring oyster reefs in 10 Bay tributaries by 2025.
Oysters are a keystone species in the Bay. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day and their reefs provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other marine life. The oyster industry is at the heart of the region’s multibillion seafood economy. CBF and our partners in the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance are committed to adding 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025.
The report also expresses the House Appropriations Committee’s support for the Corps’ Chesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources and Restoration Plan. That plan provides a detailed roadmap for restoring fish and wildlife habitat across the watershed. It includes projects to restore streams and wetlands, reforest stream-side buffers create “living shorelines” of native plants to protect tidal shorelines from erosions, and other activities that use natural solutions to control floodwaters.
With an eye to carrying out President Biden’s ambitious climate change agenda, the bill would allocate $20 million to a new Engineering with Nature Initiative to use “nature-based systems” to help adapt the nation’s water infrastructure to “rapidly changing environmental conditions.” The report the directs the Corps to use up to $5 million of that sum on “flood control and ecosystem management “objectives and operations in the Chesapeake Bay.”
Finally, the bill would budget $1 million next year to enable the Corps to better offer its technical expertise to and collaborate with of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program and other federal partners in the Bay cleanup effort. The Corps currently gets $600,000 for this purpose.
The fiscal 2022 Energy and Water bill is expected to be rolled into a package of seven appropriations bills to fund an array of federal agencies. The House is scheduled to vote on the package the week of July 26.
CBF Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko said:
“CBF appreciates the House Appropriations Committee’s continued investment in the important work of rebuilding the Bay’s native oyster population. We cannot restore this national treasure or ensure the long-term future of our seafood industry—a vital economic engine—without a robust oyster population.
“We are pleased, too, to see the Committee recognize the importance of the Comprehensive Plan, which details more than 4,000 ready-to-go projects across the watershed to help us meet the 2014 Bay Agreement goals.
“CBF thanks House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Ranking Member Mike Simpson (R-Idaho); House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Tex.); and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).”
“We also value the work of our Bay champions on the committee, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Jennifer Wexton (R-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.), and Ben Cline (R-Va.).”