Bipartisan House Bills Would Renew Key Bay Programs in Historic Conservation Law

Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) have introduced a trio of bills to reauthorize three federal programs essential to restoring the Bay and its tributaries, conserving wildlife habitat, and boosting public access to this national treasure. 

The bills are similar to the Bay-related provisions in the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Reauthorization Act introduced in the Senate last month. The bipartisan ACE Reauthorization Act would extend conservation programs nationwide.

The three-bill House package would extend the Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake WILD grants, and the Chesapeake Gateways program from fiscal year 2025 through fiscal year 2030.

EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program would be reauthorized at $100 million annually. The Program, which coordinates the multi-agency federal-state cleanup partnership, is currently funded at $92 million.  

Roughly two-thirds of its annual budget goes to grant programs that leverage local matching dollars to fund projects to control polluted runoff from urban, suburban, agricultural lands; restore streams, wetlands, and riparian buffers, establish oyster reefs, protect forests, and reconnect local waterways for fish passage. 

The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) matching grant program would be renewed at $15 million annually. It was created in 2020 in the original ACE Act to support wildlife habitat conservation projects and provide technical and planning help to local partners. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and currently funded at $8 million. 

Finally, the legislation would extend the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Gateways and Water Trails Network and Chesapeake Gateways Grants and Assistance program at $6 million annually, double the level of $3 million annually. 

The Chesapeake Gateways Program helps preserve and enhance access to public lands, historic sites, trails, parks, wildlife refuges, and museums in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. 

Together the Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake WILD grants, and the Chesapeake Gateways Program have funded numerous projects in the six Bay states and the District of Columbia. See list below for examples. 

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Federal Director Keisha Sedlacek issued the following statement: 

“CBF is excited to see bipartisan momentum building to extend federal programs that improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and public access to the Bay and its tributaries. 

“EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service are essential partners in the multi-state, multi-agency Bay restoration effort. They provide federal dollars to fund local conservation projects across the six Bay states and the District of Columbia. 

“We are entering a new phase in the Bay cleanup. These bills are an important step toward ensuring our federal partners have the tools they need to meet the coming challenges. CBF thanks Reps. Rob Wittman, Bobby Scott, and John Sarbanes for their leadership and urges the House to act quickly on this important Bay legislation.” 

See list of examples below:


  • $75,000 Chesapeake WILD grant to Baltimore Green Space, which will provide $30,600 in matching funds, to engage underserved communities to expand habitat for imperiled pollinators and gather data on bumble bees as an indicator species across 12 properties in Baltimore City.
  • $445,400 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to the Chesapeake Conservancy, which will put up $392,700 in matching funds, to support community-led conservation crews in Baltimore City, Prince Georges County, and Howard County in planting trees, restoring native habitats, and other projects chosen by the communities.
  • $150,000 Chesapeake Gateways grant to Baltimore County to support a Spanish-speaking Park Ranger and develop Spanish-language signage and informational materials at Marshy Point Nature Center and Loch Raven Fishing Center.


  • $546,500 Chesapeake WILD grant to Ruffed Grouse Society, which will provide $611,700 in matching funds, to improve 1,600 acres of ruffed grouse habitat along the Kittatinny Ridge in central Pennsylvania.
  • $75,000 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, which would put up $75,000, to work with members of the Dairy Farmers of America to complete six agricultural conservation plans to help improve water quality in south-central Pennsylvania.
  • $150,000 Chesapeake Gateways grant to the Susquehanna National Heritage Area to create an education center and heritage park focused on the area’s role in the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.


  • $750,000 Chesapeake WILD grant to the Rappahannock Tribe of Virginia, which will provide $2.85 million in matching funds, to acquire 700 acres of ancestral lands along the Rappahannock River and apply the tribe’s traditional stewardship practices to reforesting the land and improving biodiversity. 
  • $252,500 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to Trout Unlimited, which will put up $90,000 in matching funds, to bolster eastern brook trout populations in the Upper North Fork of the Shenandoah River.
  • $149,500 Chesapeake Gateways grant to the James River Association to develop curriculum and teacher resources to connect fifth-grade students in 21 Hampton City elementary schools to nature and the city’s Native American and African American culture. 

West Virginia

  • $275,900 Chesapeake WILD grant to the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust, which will provide $1.38 million in matching funds, to work with hunt clubs to protect 1,000 acres of critical habitat for Eastern brook trout, freshwater mussels, several endangered species, and 60 other species of greatest conservation need.
  • $500,000 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to Trout Unlimited, which will contribute $409,500 in matching funds, to reconnect one and half miles of brook trout habitat and another mile of streamside forest habitat in the Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. 
  • $110,000 Chesapeake Gateways grant to the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission to develop a master plan for Moulton Park and its 82-acre expansion that includes recreation and public access, native species protection, soil conservation, and forest regeneration.


  • $50,000 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance to develop a stormwater management strategy to meet Delaware’s pollution-reduction goals in the Nanticoke River watershed.
  • $177,600 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to Delaware Wild Lands, which will provide $130,600 in matching funds to restore 25 acres of native forest and meadow habitat and nearly half a mile of streamside habitat in the Great Cypress Swamp.

New York

  • $73,700 Chesapeake WILD grant to the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY) on behalf of SUNY-Oneonta to develop a plan to evaluate potential habitats needed to rebuild brook floater mussel populations in the Susquehanna River.
  • $140,600 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to Trout Unlimited, which will provide $70,000 in matching funds, to open 2.8 miles of high-quality brook trout habitat in the Wylie Brook watershed.

Washington, D.C. 

  • $180,000 Chesapeake Bay Program grant to the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, which would provide $16,300 in matching funds, to engage local environmental justice communities in planning, preparing, and financing sanitary sewage system corrections to reduce discharges sewer system overflows in the Anacostia River watershed.
  • $147,600 Chesapeake Gateways grant to the Friends of the National Arboretum to involve diverse local communities in the Anacostia River watershed in volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum. 
Lisa Caruso 90x110

Lisa Caruso

Washington, D.C. Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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