Trees are planted for a stream buffer, one of the high priorities in the $22 million worth of Bay funding just announced. Photo: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

$22 Million in Bay Grants to Fund 49 Community Projects

The effort to the clean up the Chesapeake Bay is getting a big influx of cash—and rather than putting the money into big federal- or state-run projects, it’s going into more than four dozen community-level projects.

On Tuesday, grants of $10 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and $12 million in local matched funds were announced for a total of $22 million in Chesapeake Bay projects. U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who helped announce the grants, notes that “federal resources operate with a multiplier effect, helping to get other funds.”

The $22 million will go towards 49 on-the-ground community-based projects across the watershed to protect and restore natural resources of the Bay and its rivers and streams. The grants are awarded through the Small Watershed Grants program.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation acts as intermediary btw EPA and the community who wants to help the Chesapeake Bay watershed, through NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.

The projects stretch to all reaches of the Bay watershed, from restoring brook trout habitat in New York to creating a watershed stewards program for Spanish speakers called “La Academia de Defensores de la Cuenca”. And they include both rural (like reducing runoff from the agricultural industry in the Shenandoah Valley) and urban areas (like a tree nursery in Baltimore City’s Broadway East neighborhood that includes a tree farm and workforce development hub).

Multiple projects will work to add or restore forest buffers, which Michelle Price-Fay, EPA’s acting director of the Chesapeake Bay Program, calls “paramount”. Forest buffers prevent runoff, protect wildlife habitat, and help protect against the rising sea levels of climate change.

For a full list of the 49 stewardship projects and their details, click here.

“The Bay can’t wait. It’s got the timetable of Mother Nature and we need to make sure we address these issues,” says Sarbanes.

Meg Walburn Viviano