State legislatures designate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week
The first annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week will be celebrated from June 4-12 in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Recognizing the rich history, pivotal economic importance, and astounding beauty of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission worked collaboratively in seeking passage of resolutions designating a week-long recognition of the Chesapeake Bay. Through this designation, the legislatures encourage residents and environmental and educational groups to host events, activities, and educational programs to increase awareness of the importance of the Chesapeake Bay to the states, region and United States.
“Public engagement and awareness were critical to achieving the water quality improvements we’ve witnessed thus far. Bay Awareness Week will reinvigorate the public, engage new partners and help us meet our Chesapeake Watershed Agreement commitment to increase the number and diversity of local citizen stewards and local governments that actively support and carry out conservation and restoration.” said Commission Chair Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles). Virginia delegate and Commission Vice-Chair Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge) added, “We urge watershed residents to join us in becoming more Bay aware and during the second week of June, host events, activities, and educational programs to increase awareness of the Chesapeake Bay in your own community.”
This is yet another example of commission members working across political and geographic boundaries for the betterment of this national treasure. Earlier this year recognitions for former Maryland Senator Bernie Fowler for his 50 years of work to restore the Chesapeake Bay were advanced in each state.
The second week of June was selected because it book-ends two long-standing, successful outreach events in the watershed. During the first Saturday in June, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation hosts Clean the Bay Day during which thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves and take direct action to clean their waterways. In Maryland, on the second Sunday in June, Bernie Fowler traditionally holds his annual Patuxent River Wade-In event, attended by hundreds over the past 28 years, from schoolchildren to governors, U.S. Congressmen and Senators.
The Susquehanna Sojourn, celebrating the largest river east of the Mississippi that supplies the lifeblood of fresh water flowing in to the Chesapeake Bay, runs from June 17-19 this year, further extending our Bay awareness festivities. “In Pennsylvania, being more aware of the Chesapeake Bay and taking actions to reduce pollution directly benefits our local communities and local waters,” said Pennsylvania representative and Commission Vice-Chair Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming, Union).
Ann Swanson, Annapolis The writer is the executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.