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Maryland Groups Receive Environmental Grants

Reducing pollution benefits fish and wildlife throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Credit: Mary Hollinger, NOAA/
Reducing pollution benefits fish and wildlife throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Credit: Mary Hollinger, NOAA/
October 12, 2015

BALTIMORE - Maryland groups will be receiving part of a record $11.5 million in grants for restoration, conservation and environmental outreach in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The grants, from the Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will help improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Jake Reilly, director of the Foundation's Chesapeake Bay programs, says the focus is on grassroots efforts.

"In order to restore the Chesapeake Bay, we need to have all hands on deck," says Reilly. "So these grants are really supporting local communities in cleaning up their own rivers and streams, which ultimately helps the Chesapeake Bay."

Funded projects will include storm water management, reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from agriculture and reducing sediment.

The grants typically last two or three years, but Reilly stresses that the funded projects are designed to have long-lasting results.

"One of the key elements is the building and sustainment of important partnerships that can carry on this good work past the life of a grant or a specific project," says Reilly.

The funding is awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund and financed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Although the ultimate goal is the restoration of Chesapeake Bay, Reilly says agricultural pollution and sediment also have profound impacts on fish and other aquatic life in the thousands of miles of waterways that feed into the bay.

"At the end of the day, water quality is really about how we can create and sustain suitable habitat for the species that are important for commercial purposes, for recreational purposes or for cultural purposes across the watershed," Reilly says.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation says by focusing efforts on local projects, these grants help build resilient communities while improving the watershed.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - MD