WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) today announced $575,000 in federal funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for two wildlife habitat restoration projects along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. These are among the first grants to be awarded from the Chesapeake WILD Program, which was created by bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senator Cardin and authored by Senator Van Hollen as well as Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and enacted in the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. The program, the first of its kind at FWS specific to habitat restoration in the Bay watershed, was funded at $4 million in fiscal year 2022, and will support a regional network of stakeholders’ locally driven efforts.
“Our Chesapeake forests and wetlands are critical natural resources that provide numerous societal benefits, including fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, erosion control, and clean water,” said Senator Cardin. “This investment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local partners focused on enhancing habitat, as well as recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, will complement the Bay restoration effort and further enhance resiliency in the watershed.”
“From the residents and tourists who love to explore the Chesapeake Bay to the watermen who rely on it for their livelihoods, restoring the Bay’s natural wildlife habitat is critical to its health and the health of our regional economy. That’s why I launched the successful bipartisan effort to establish the Chesapeake WILD Program, which is supporting these new partnerships between the Fish and Wildlife Service and local conservationists in an effort to preserve the Bay. These investments are more important than ever as we continue fighting to protect one of our greatest treasures,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
The grants have been awarded as follows:
- $500,000 for Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s Blackwater-Nanticoke Habitat Migration Corridor Protection: The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) proposes to conduct outreach and complete conservation easements in the identified region to assist with the wildlife habitat migration between the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Nanticoke River. Based on existing prices and availability of matching dollars, ESLC plans to protect between 350‐400 acres of strategic wildlife habitat in Dorchester County.
- $75,000 for the restoration of Northwest Creek, Kent Island: Northwest Creek is a 100‐acre formal tidal inlet on Kent Island that has been plagued with deteriorating water quality for many years. The Alliance to Restore Northwest Creek (ARNC) is seeking funds to secure expertise that will produce a final restoration design and the acquisition of Federal and State permits. This includes preparing the permit application and providing the technical documentation the Federal and State permitting organizations require. These documents require expertise the ARNC does not have and required funds greatly exceed what the organization can organically obtain. The restoration project will create new habitat for shallow water fish species and protected breeding grounds for other wildlife via the creation of 15 acres of spartina islands, 8 acres of living shorelines and 4 acres of marsh habitat.
This grant program is modeled after the Chesapeake WILD Act – led by Senators Van Hollen and Capito and sponsored by Senator Cardin – language that was enacted through the larger America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act in 2020. It is designed to assist local partners with on-the-ground work to enhance progress toward the priorities laid out in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, such asthe following activities:
- Riparian forest buffer restoration;
- Improving stream health;
- Tidal and Non-tidal wetland restoration;
- Improving fish habitat;
- Expanding populations of black ducks;
- Restoring and protecting eastern brook trout and their habitat; and
- Removing barriers to fish migration in freshwater systems.