Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram keeps Ho­gan as chair­man

Times-Record - - NEWS - By CHRISTINA ACOSTA ca­costa@ches­

— Gov. Larry Ho­gan hosted the 2018 an­nual meet­ing of the Ch­e­sa­peake Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram, where he was unan­i­mously elected as chair­man for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive term.

Ho­gan was joined by Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Delaware Gov. John Car­ney, act­ing EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor An­drew Wheeler and Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Com­mis­sion Chair­man Frank Wag­ner. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from New York, Penn­syl­va­nia, West Vir­ginia, the District of Columbia and key en­vi­ron­men­tal stake­hold­ers also were in at­ten­dance at the Fred­er­ick Dou­glass-Isaac My­ers Mar­itime Park in Bal­ti­more.

“As chair of the coun­cil, I am very pleased with the tremen­dous progress we are mak­ing to­gether and look­ing for­ward to the con­tin­ued op­por­tu­nity to work with all of you,” Ho­gan said. “This coun­cil rec­og­nizes the power of in­no­va­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and part­ner­ship when it comes to achiev­ing a cleaner and health­ier Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, a na­tional trea­sure we have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pre­serve and pro­tect for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to come.”

Since tak­ing of­fice, Ho­gan has in­vested $4 bil­lion in Ch­e­sa­peake Bay restora­tion ef­forts, more than any gover­nor in Mary­land his­tory. The lat­est an­nual re­port card for the Bay gave it the high­est score for wa­ter qual­ity ever recorded, mak­ing it the best in 33 years.

A key in­di­ca­tor that the wa­ter qual­ity is im­prov­ing is the Bay un­der wa­ter grass surg­ing and sur­pass­ing 100,000 acres for the first time in mod­ern his­tory.

In recog­ni­tion of this record of en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship, Ho­gan re­cently was the re­cip­i­ent of the 2018 Mary­land En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vice En­vi­ron­men­tal Busi­ness Lead­er­ship Award. He also was named Cham­pion of the Ch­e­sa­peake by the Ch­e­sa­peake Con­ser­vancy in 2017.

Ad­dress­ing the meet­ing, Ho­gan em­pha­sized the con­tin­ued need to re­duce sed­i­ment and nu­tri­ent pol­lu­tion from the Susque­hanna River, which flows over the Conowingo Dam and into the Bay. Re­cent heavy rain and flood­ing caused many of Mary­land’s coastal wa­ter­ways and har­bors to flood with de­bris and sed­i­ment, much of which came from up­stream states.

This sed­i­ment and de­bris are a threat to the en­vi­ron­ment; pose a se­ri­ous dan­ger to wildlife, boaters and swim­mers; and threaten to set back Bay restora­tion progress, Ho­gan said.

Crit­i­cal progress was made in the meet­ing as the Bay lead­ers reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing a Wa­ter­shed Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plan for the Conowingo Dam, which is vi­tal to reach­ing re­gional restora­tion goals by 2025.

Rec­og­niz­ing the crit­i­cal role the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try plays in pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion, Ho­gan and the coun­cil mem­bers signed a di­rec­tive for the prin­ci­pals’ staff com­mit­tee to pri­or­i­tize tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance for agri­cul­ture. They also jointly signed a let­ter to the U.S. Congress to reaf­firm sup­port for key en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­vi­sions in the fed­eral Farm Bill, in­clud­ing the En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity In­cen­tives Pro­gram, Re­gional Con­ser­va­tion Part­ner­ship Pro­gram and Agri­cul­tural Con­ser­va­tion Ease­ment Pro­gram.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram also has agreed to a co­or­di­nated en­vi­ron­men­tal lit­er­acy ef­fort, which com­mits to con­ven­ing high-level lead­ers, in­clud­ing state su­per­in­ten­dents of ed­u­ca­tion, ev­ery two years to dis­cuss ways to en­able stu­dents through­out the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay re­gion to grad­u­ate with the knowl­edge and skills needed to be­come the next gen­er­a­tion of in­no­va­tors and stew­ards for af­fected wa­ter­ways.

“I want to thank the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram and plan­ning team chairs for or­ga­niz­ing this im­por­tant meet­ing, and I want to thank my col­leagues for hon­or­ing me this morn­ing by unan­i­mously re-elect­ing me to serve as chair of this ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil for the year ahead,” Ho­gan said.

In ad­di­tion to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s un­prece­dented $4 bil­lion in­vest­ment, Ho­gan was the first gover­nor in Mary­land his­tory to fully fund the Ch­e­sa­peake and At­lantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s past three bud­gets. He also has fully funded Pro­gram Open Space, the state’s pre­mier land conser va­tion and recre­ation pro­gram.

“The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram is pleased to have Gov. Ho­gan re­elected as chair of our ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil. We look for­ward to his con­tin­ued sup­port of the part­ner­ship, as well as guid­ing our part­ners in meet­ing the restora­tion goals un­der the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Wa­ter­shed Agree­ment,” said Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Pro­gram Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Rachel Felver.

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