Important Bay Programs Escape Funding Cuts in FY24 Budget Deal

Important programs that fund Bay restoration and recovery work were spared from budget cuts in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations deal the House of Representatives passed today by a vote of 339-85. 

The six-bill package would fund EPA, the Interior Department, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Army Corps Engineers, among other agencies, through the end of fiscal 2024. It still must pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Biden to take effect.

EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which coordinates the sprawling federal-state partnership to clean up the Bay and its waterways, would continue to be funded at $92 million through the end of fiscal 2024. About two-thirds of the Program’s annual budget funds grants for local cleanup projects in the six Bay states and the District of Columbia.

The Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) grant program would have its current funded level of $8 million extended through the rest of fiscal 2024. Administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, this competitive grant program supports community-led initiatives to restore and conserve fish and wildlife habitat across the Bay’s 64,000 square-mile watershed. 

The budget deal would also keep Army Corps of Engineers funding for large-scale oyster recovery efforts in Maryland and Virginia at $6.45 million. Both states are on track to finish projects restoring native oyster populations in 11 Bay tributaries (five in Maryland and six in Virginia) by the 2025 deadline set in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement

In a win for Bay fisheries, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would get $500,000 to control invasive blue catfish that are wreaking havoc on native species in the Bay. The department's Food Safety and Inspection Service would get up to $1 million to inspect wild-caught invasive blue catfish.

USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program is slated to receive $3 million for grants to wild-caught catfish processors, to make it easier to bring these fish to market. The deal also includes language encouraging the federal government to purchase wild-caught catfish. 

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

“CBF is glad to see important programs that improve water quality, protect wildlife habitat, and support oyster restoration in the Bay and its tributaries spared from detrimental funding cuts. The Bay states are entering a new phase of the cleanup effort. Chesapeake Bay restoration programs need reliable funding from federal partners to tackle the challenges to come. 

“We are also pleased Congress recognized the urgent need to control invasive blue catfish before they overwhelm the native fisheries that anchor our region’s economy and culture. 

“CBF appreciates the hard work negotiating this legislation by lawmakers including House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Tex.), House Appropriations Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine), and House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-Md.).”  

Lisa Caruso 90x110

Lisa Caruso

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

[email protected]

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