Mary­land un­veils its lat­est bay li­cense plate de­sign

Some proceeds from ex­tra cost of spe­cial tags tabbed for Ch­e­sa­peake preser­va­tion

The Enterprise - - News - By HOWARD R. FLETCHER Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

Mary­land driv­ers can up­date their ex­pres­sion of Ch­e­sa­peake pride and help with ef­forts to save the bay with a new li­cense plate de­sign that state trans­porta­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cials un­veiled Oct. 18 at Sandy Point State Park.

The art­work for the new li­cense plate was cre­ated by Tina Car­dosi and Su­jen Bu­ford of Fred­er­ick-based de­sign firm TM De­sign Inc.

The new plate is slated to be avail­able for pur­chase be­gin­ning Mon­day, Oct. 29. It’s the third it­er­a­tion of a Mary­land Bay-themed tag in 28 years.

“We worked along with the trust us­ing fo­cus groups of vol­un­teer Mary­lan­ders, who told us that they wanted de­pic­tions of icons and wildlife unique to Mary­land,” Bu­ford said in a phone in­ter­view.

The art­work for the fi­nal de­sign — in­cor­po­rat­ing a fe­male crab and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay bridge — was se­lected from among more than 250 sub­mis­sions.

“The process for ar­riv­ing at the se­lected de­sign was in­cred- ibly thor­ough, took nearly a year and in­volved two rounds of fo­cus groups and on­line sur­veys,” said Erin Valen­tine, de­vel­op­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions co­or­di­na­tor for the trust.

Car­dosi and Bu­ford worked dili­gently to make sure they rep­re­sented the water­shed en­vi­ron­ment in the most ap­peal­ing way, ac­cord­ing to an email state­ment from TM De­sign.

Car­dosi had many sleep­less nights due to the ex­cite­ment and cre­ative ideas that spurred her vi­sion, she said.

“I knew that a blue crab should be the fo­cus. Af­ter all, ev­ery­one knows Mary­land is for crabs,” said Car­dosi. “Also, the bay bridge is the gate­way to va­ca­tion in the state of Mary­land.”

The Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity and the state po­lice were also con­sulted through­out the de­sign process, ac­cord­ing to Valen­tine.

The de­sign con­forms to state guide­lines, three dif­fer­ent plate-reader tech­nolo­gies and se­cu­rity needs, Valen­tine said.

Mary­land ve­hi­cle own­ers will have to pay $20 above nor­mal ve­hi­cle registration fees to get the plates. Funds raised from these plate registrations go to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Trust.

The trust is a non­profit, grant-mak­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to restor­ing the rivers, streams, forests and main body of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay water­shed, ac­cord­ing to its mis­sion state­ment.

Seven per­cent of all li­censed ve­hi­cles in the state have Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Trust plates, and 12 per­cent of house­holds across the state re­port that they have at least one set of Bay Plates in the fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to the MVA.

Over more than 30 years, the pro­gram has awarded more than $100 mil­lion through more than 11,000 grants to fund water­shed restora­tion projects, cit­i­zen out­reach and en­gage­ment ini­tia­tives and K-12 en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to Jana Davis, the trust’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor.

“I think it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to know that their $20 con­tri­bu­tion goes through the trust and not to the trust,” Davis said. “Twenty dol­lars is about what it costs for us to plant a tree or send a stu­dent on a life-chang­ing field trip ex­pe­ri­ence. We make sure all of that money goes to such good use.”

There are more than 300,000 Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Trust plates on the road to­day, Davis said.

The new de­sign will be the third de­sign in the his­tory of the pro­gram. The first Ch­e­sa­peake Bay li­cense plate was un­veiled in 1990. The sec­ond de­sign, which is cur­rently on the roads, was un­veiled in 2004. The pop­u­lar­ity of the bay plate has been rel­a­tively steady over time, but tends to get a lit­tle bump when a new de­sign comes out, Valen­tine said.

Changes and im­prove­ments in print­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy made the de­ci­sion to up­date the de­sign of the li­cense plate easy, ac­cord­ing to Davis.

“When we up­dated the de­sign about 14 years ago, our color and il­lus­tra­tion op­tions were lim­ited to four-color print­ing,” she said. “Now, with all the color and de­tail that dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy en­ables, the sky’s the limit. We thought it was time we took ad­van­tage of that.”

The artist who lost sleep sort­ing through de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties in her head agrees.

“The vivid col­ors and crisp, de­tailed il­lus­tra­tions come to­gether to form a unique and mem­o­rable plate that will rep­re­sent one of our state’s most im­por­tant aquatic and land re­sources — the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” Car­dosi said.

MARY­LAND MVA IM­AGE

State and en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cials un­veiled the new Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Trust li­cense plate that will be avail­able start­ing next Mon­day, Oct. 29.

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