Annapolis, MD – On Thursday, March 10, 2022, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The annual federal spending package provides funding for several programs important to conservation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Chesapeake Conservancy’s Manager of External Affairs Reed Perry applauded the federal FY 22 omnibus bill, stating,
“The federal FY 22 omnibus appropriations bill is a big win for conservation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay is our nation’s largest estuary and home to more than 18 million people. The health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed impacts the health and economic prosperity of all residents in the Bay watershed. These conservation investments are investments in the health of our lands and waters, the health of our nature and wildlife, and the health and economic well-being of our people.
“The FY 22 omnibus provides a much-needed increase in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, the regional partnership working to protect and restore the Bay watershed. This additional funding will boost partner efforts to meet the restoration goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement by 2025.
“This bill also provides $4 million to the Chesapeake WILD program, a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program established by Congress in 2020. Chesapeake WILD is dedicated program for conservation in the Chesapeake Bay and will support on the ground efforts across the watershed such as species conservation and wetland restoration. Importantly, this is the first year that the program will receive funding, which is badly needed to enhance conservation efforts for fish and wildlife in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“We are thrilled that thanks to the support of Senator Ben Cardin, the FY 22 spending bill also includes $2 million in congressionally directed spending to the City of Annapolis, Maryland for an important cultural and historic site for Black Americans in the Chesapeake known as Elktonia Beach. This funding will provide critical support for a state and local partnership effort to establish and develop a park at Elktonia Beach, the last remaining undeveloped area of Annapolis waterfront land originally owned by the Carr’s family that included Carr’s, Sparrow’s and Elktonia Beaches. These once-popular beach destinations and concert venues welcomed Blacks during the time of segregation. While most of this area has been sold off and developed, a 5-acre parcel at Elktonia Beach remains undeveloped and ready for purchase.
“In addition, we are thrilled that thanks to the support of Senator Tom Carper, the FY 22 spending bill includes $1.2 million in congressionally directed spending to the City of Seaford in Delaware to relocate a sewer line. In July 2021, Chesapeake Conservancy celebrated with the City of Seaford and many partners on the completion of Phase 1 of the Seaford Oyster House Park, which features a new Riverwalk along the Nanticoke River. The critical next step in Oyster House Park is the relocation of a sewer line, and this funding will allow Seaford to complete Phase 2 of the project.
“Lastly, this bill includes $2 million in Land and Water Conservation Funds to protect Fones Cliffs in the Rappahannock River National Wildlife Refuge. Overlooking the Rappahannock River in Virginia, Fones Cliffs is a treasure and an important part of the ancestral lands of the Rappahannock Tribe. This funding will help to protect this iconic and endangered landscape and preserve a vital part of the Chesapeake’s history and culture.
“Chesapeake Conservancy thanks the members of the Chesapeake Bay watershed delegation for their support for these important conservation investments in FY 22.”
Highlights for Chesapeake Bay conservation and restoration in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Include:
· $88 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, an increase of $500,000 over FY 21 appropriations. The Chesapeake Bay Program is a regional partnership of federal agencies, states, local governments, universities, and non-governmental organizations that work together to restore and to protect the Chesapeake Bay.
· $3 million for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails program. The Gateways Program is run by the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office and provides financial and technical support to communities and organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed for public access, educational programming, and interpretation of the Bay’s natural, cultural, and historical resources. The bill also includes an increase of $500,000 for the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office to support operations and programming in the Chesapeake Bay.
· $4 million to the Chesapeake WILD program, a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program supporting on the ground conservation efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
· $2 million in congressionally directed spending to the City of Annapolis, Maryland to support the development of a park at the historic Elktonia Beach property in Annapolis. The earmark secured by Senator Ben Cardin (D – MD) complements current state and local efforts to preserve the last remaining parcel of the historic Annapolis waterfront land originally owned by the Carr’s family that included Carr’s, Sparrow’s and Elktonia Beaches.
· $1.2 million in congressionally directed spending to the City of Seaford, Delaware to relocate a sewer line. The earmark secured by Senator Tom Carper (D – DE) will support Phase 2 of the development of Seaford’s Oyster House Park on the Nanticoke River.
· $2 million for the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF), and $900 million for the national LWCF program. The LWCF program provides funding to protect land for national parks, national forests, and other public lands, as well as state and local parks.
· $150 million for the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program. The REPI program supports partnerships between branches of the U.S. military, local conservation groups, and local and state governments to conserve land near military installations in order to protect the continued and future operation of military installations. REPI has supported to conservation of more than 32,000 acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.